The most horrifying film of the 21st Century not starring Katherine Heigl...
Mia: Jane Levy David: Shiloh Fernandez Eric: Lou Taylor Pucci Olivia: Jessica Lucas Natalie: Elizabeth Blackmore
TriStar Pictures presents a film written and directed by Fede Alvarez and co-written by Rodo Sayagues Mendez. Based on the 1981 film The Evil Dead by Sam Raimi. Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes Release Date: April 5, 2013
I don't think it makes me sound too jaded to say that most modern day horror films suck. The Cabin in the Woods is a recent exception, but one could argue it's a lot more satire than true horror. There just don't seem to be any more creative ways to scare people, or at least the constant barrage of horror remakes - each one seemingly worse than the one before it - would lead you to believe that. After the box office and critical success of 2004's Dawn of the Dead, anything and everything that could generate a dollar has been rebooted. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, and the list goes on. It's a Chris Jericho Man of 1,004 Holds sized list of eye-rolling, watch-checking trash that likely wouldn't scare anyone old enough to drive.
So it likely goes without saying that when one of my favorite films from the genre, The Evil Dead was scheduled to get a reboot I wasn't giddy with anticipation. However, I can safely say that 32 years later, Fede Alvarez - making his first full length motion picture - has created something that not only pays its respects to the original, but might just scare the pants off you in the process.
Much like 2011's The Thing, this version of Evil Dead appears to work as a sequel that is just similarly constructed to the original. The structure is the same. A brother and sister along with three other friends (none of whom appear to have ever seen a horror movie) head off to an abandoned cabin in the middle of nowhere. Rather than "get drunk and bump uglies" like Ash and company three decades ago, it's a retreat to get a girl named Mia (Levy) to give up her heroin addiction after she was nearly lost to an overdose.
Mia is waiting with her friends - a teacher (Pucci) and a nurse (Lucas) - when her brother, David (Fernandez), and his girlfriend (Blackmore) arrive. David has seemingly been off the grid since the passing of he and Mia's mother, and both she and their friends remind him that they do not appreciate his absence. It isn't long before that becomes water under the bridge.
After both Mia and the family dog notice a wretched smell coming from the basement, the group stumbles upon a host of animal carcasses and something wrapped in a black bag and barbed wire. Mia is not the friendliest of the group as she goes through her drug withdrawal, but she may be the smartest. "You shouldn't have touched anything in that basement."
But it only takes one person's curiosity to kill the cats. By the time the group realizes that Mia's ramblings of an evil spirit in the house and wounds from a trip to the forest aren't a result of withdrawal or an attempt to leave, the only road home has been flooded and escape is not a possibility.
This incarnation of Evil Dead takes a different turn than Raimi's. It doesn't offer the humor or satire of the originals, but it does provide plenty of winks and nods to fans. Listen closely and you'll even hear a familiar voice or two. And while the comedy may not be present, the gore most certainly is. Even those with the strongest of stomachs are going to turn their heads at least a time or two. A couple of people at the screening I attended walked out. It's not a movie for everyone. But I applaud this direction, because I believe the attempt to take Evil Dead in a comedic direction would have just reminded its audience that Bruce Campbell isn't here.
If there is any fault with Raimi's trilogy, it's that they are so front loaded they begin to lose a little steam towards the end. The case is the same in this version of Evil Dead. Once the Book of the Dead has been unleashed, the scares and bloodletting comes fast and furious, never giving you a chance to contemplate the possibility of an escape. That said, I believe this may have been a stronger movie without some of the final 15 minutes or so. No matter how unbelievable a premise such as this is, part of the fear generated is by Alvarez's ability to put you inside of this horrific setting. But there may be a point near the end that leaves you scratching your head and asking, "Really?" I think it takes away from the rest of the film, which even had me spooked. And I can't remember the last horror movie I saw that actually induced some real horror.
The 411: After being subjected to one horrendous "horror" film after the other (Paranormal Activity series, I'm looking at you), modern day horror fans actually have something to behold with Evil Dead. There is a plot point late in the film that I think takes away some of the element of fear, but up until then there are some truly horrific scenes and never a shortage of gore. If you believe in evil spirits or have a weak stomach, avoid the concession stand and don't plan on getting a good night's sleep. Evil Dead may be the scariest movie in a generation.