Director: Fede Alvarez (2013)
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Find it: IMDB
Boo hoo, another horror remake. Yes, but a halfway decent one, this time.
Evil Dead is the most terrifying film you will ever experience, apparently. Not really, but it's an experience, all the same. A remake of a highly regarded horror classic directed by the great Sam Raimi and starring the greatest Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead faced an uphill struggle from the start. With the fans rallying against his remake and clamouring for an Evil Dead 4, director Fede Alvarez was in an unenviable position. Despite my being an enormous fan of Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, I was more open to the idea of this remake than most. Well, The Hills Have Eyes remake is one of my favourite horror movies of all time, so it would be a tad hypocritical of me to whine about remakes now, wouldn't it?
Alvarez ships his own group of pretty teenagers out to a little cabin in the woods, where Mia (Levy) is trying to kick her drug addiction. Also present - her estranged brother (Fernandez) and supportive but hippyish friends. Not present - Bruce Campbell or Ash. But this film didn't need them. It needed space to be it's own thing.
Another question on everyone's lips: can I struggle through this review without calling the film 'groovy'? Probably not, but I'll try. From beginning to end, it's a non-stop gore rollercoaster, full of incredible violence and beautiful mayhem. Evil Dead might be the most violent cinema release of all time. It's certainly the bloodiest. Limbs are torn off, dogs brutally murdered, tongues slit and bodies punctured with all manner of torture instrument. Best seen at the cinema, the screening which I attended was packed full of terrified gasps and shuddering. A press screening for Starburst Magazine (my classier review can be read here), bottles of beer and whole pizzas were handed out for free before the film. I can think of no movie less suited to having stuffed your face beforehand. Perhaps the publicists were hoping somebody would throw up or something - that always does wonders for a horror film's credibility.
Nobody chundered at the screening I attended, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. And for good reason: Evil Dead is a success. Like most remakes, it struggles a little to justify its own existence, but the constant onslaught of gore and violence will win over a great deal of horrorhounds - myself included. There's an obvious reverence for the original, and a lot of winks and nods in that general direction. Occasionally it gets a little too much - just do your own thing already! But largely, it works. Others won't be swayed (especially what with the dodgy script, bad acting and silly twist towards the end) but it's easier to watch than most horror remakes. Oh, and be sure to say in your seat after the credits roll, for the motherlode of all treats*.
Alright, I'll bite: it may not be the "most terrifying film you'll ever experience" (not even close) and nor is it as good as the original, but Evil Dead 2013 is groovy as hell.
*May not be an actual motherlode.