In the Early 1980’s Sam Raimi got together with friends and made a cheap horror flick about friends that go to a cabin in the woods and awake an evil demon. The movie became the stuff of legend, all while introducing the world to Bruce Campbell and a new version of horror, complete with slapstick, gory fun.
Now with all that, we have to remember that that little horror flick was cheaply made, and not an acting triumph by far (aside from the notable performance from Campbell). Its real success lied in the director. As you watched Raimi’s bloody film, you got the feeling somewhere the cast was laughing hysterically at you as you squirmed through the raunchy violence. He created dollar store camera tricks that became legendary within the indie horror circuit, and the EVIL DEAD easily became that cool horror flick you watch with your friends on a stormy Friday night.
Fast forward to 2013, more than 30 years after the first EVIL DEAD, and that triumph has been passed on. Raimi and Campbell joined forces to reboot the franchise with newbie director Fede Alvarez at the helm, and have reworked the story to make this (besides the not so casual nod to the franchise and the almost slapstick, ultra-gore contained throughout), a fresh look for both fans and non-fans alike.
Mia (Jane Levy), is a troubled addict looking to come clean with the help of her barely around brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and Mia’s two good friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas). The group heads to Mia and David’s creepy cabin, (obviously located deep in the woods) to get Mia to quit cold turkey. Early on we are warned that this is not Mia’s first attempt at being sober, and she has a knack for erratic and reckless behavior in the process. This makes for a somewhat helpless heroine, especially when things start getting strange, (it’s hard for any friends to believe her when she talks about seeing faces, and we can understand why–especially following her rough encounter with a tree…)
Soon enough, the group discovers, among many other things, a basement filled with skinned cats, a shotgun, a shed filled with tools, a book wrapped in barbed wire and a black garbage bag. And when that glorious spell from that little book is read, the fun begins…
EVIL DEAD is by far the best of the long line of horror reboots that studios have recently shelled out. Raimi took Alvarez under his wing and Alvarez succeeds tremendously. After a brutal opening scene, Alvarez’s ode to THE SHINING creates scale for the events to come, and during some beautiful, overwhelming shots introducing the cabin and its surroundings, he shows us every gruesome tool that will be used by the demon later on as nonchalantly as possible (slick).
Once we start to get into the meat of the story, the characters take over. Jane Levy plays the hopeless and helpless addict perfectly. Her moans and screams as she struggles to sober up are amazingly convincing, and from the moment the demon possesses her, she becomes a whole different person, handling disturbing moments with horrifying glee as she laughs, curses and giggles throughout every scene. We have seen plenty of actresses handle the girl possessed role yet not since Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST has one been so convincing.
EVIL DEAD is an outstanding work of horror from a genre that remains inconsistent at best. Beautifully shot, solid acting, and top notch effects (not to mention enough blood to make Dario Argento blush), it is one of the first must-see horror films of the year. Fans of the original should flock to theaters, and so should horror fans, as this might be the first glimpse of great bloody horror in many years.
NOTE-Stay after the credits for an important narration and a short post credits sequence.