“I feel pretty, oh so pretty…”


Theatrical Release Date: 04/05/2013
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Rated: R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes


Trailer:

She must use a lovely conditioner.

Chances are, when you heard they were releasing a remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, you had one of three reactions:

A) Flat out repulsion at the idea of remaking the cult-classic that introduced us to Bruce Campbell, Ash and the deadites.
B) Interest in seeing how they could remake the cult-classic that introduced us to Bruce Campbell, Ash and the deadites.
C) Indifference, because you hadn’t already seen the cult-classic that introduced us to, well, that stuff I mentioned.

I saw the original at least a decade and a half ago, so I didn’t have a particular affection for the movie, other than recalling that I liked it and it was scary. I watched it again on Netflix about a week ago and was pleased to find that it was still scary, campy, funny fun. I like a scary movie and the trailer for the remake managed to get me to cover my face with my hands, so I was stoked to dive in and see what director Fede Alvarez had done with the material.

Alvarez has given us a thoroughly gory and frightening remake. It takes the basic premise of the original film, five friends go to a remote cabin for the weekend, find a yucky book and unleash hell, but tweaks it for a modern audience. Instead of taking a vacation so they can party, they are gathered to help Mia (Jane Levy) go cold turkey and kick her drug habit. Her brother, his girlfriend and their chums are determined to be supportive, no matter what it takes, which helps us to understand why, when the chips hit the fan and Mia begins acting super scary, they don’t hightail it out of there. One friend is a nurse, determined to treat Mia’s ailments as well as any hospital could, and another is a schoolteacher, which explains why he’s foolish enough to insist on examining the very disturbing Necronomicon despite it being discovered bound in barbed wire and surrounded by petrified cat carcasses. As one might expect, it turns out Mia’s erratic behavior is not just withdrawal, but rather the result of a demon that has latched on to her being and is dead-set (get it?) on consuming the souls of everyone in the cabin before bringing hell on Earth.

Evil Dead follows the precedent set by the original and manages to gross out the audience using only practical effects, makeup and oceans of blood. And if gross is what Alvarez was going for, he succeeded. Every time you blink, another character is being eviscerated, dismembered or just horribly, horribly mutilated. This is not a popcorn movie (which is too bad, since I bought the big tub and barely touched it). This is a cover-your-face, watch-through-your-fingers movie.

The actors, for the most part, do a fine job with the material. Levy is a new scream queen and Lou Taylor Pucci, the bookish friend who sets the whole mess in action, does an effective job with his character. It’s almost entirely his fault, yet I like him best by the end of the second act. The film retains the misogyny of the original (why do the ladies always have to be such bitches in horror movies? Damn demons!), but there’s a notable third act twist that sets the remake apart from the original.

Evil Dead skirts the line between remake and reboot (a rebake, perhaps?), with winks and nods and leers at fans of the Ash version, but with enough of a fresh take to allow for new sequels. Which sounds fine to me; I’m on board for a new Evil Dead II. As long as they leave Army of Darkness alone – I don’t want to live in that world without Bruce Campbell and his chin.

3.5 out of 5