Cinema Review – Evil Dead (2013)

My head hurts….my neck is stiff….my eyes are worn out from a 90 minute barrage!

That can only mean I have just woken up after seeing the Evil Dead re-imagining/reboot/remake (still not sure which of these it is classed as). Make no mistake this film is horrific… in all the right ways.

The story setup is much the same as Raimi’s original masterpiece, but with a slight twist. Instead of the group of hapless teenagers going on holiday to the infamous cabin, this iteration sees them taking their close friend/sister, a drug addict, on an unofficial rehab retreat.

This adds a clever device to the concept because it gives credibility to the early demonic happenings (which are focused on the Junkie, Mia) being dismissed as hallucinations in the face of forcing her to go cold turkey.

But before long we are in full on familiar Evil Dead territory. The trees are equally adept at violating young girls, blood is vomited in violent fountains, arms are cut off, cellars play host to Candarian Demons and so on. Strangely, it is this familiarity which caused an issue for me.

Going into the film I felt like I just wanted to see all the stuff from the original film executed with a big budget. However it was precisely these things that were the weakest moments. Yes they were still horrendous and some even had me gritting my teeth and stomping my foot in disbelief and terrified empathy, but afterwards I just found myself semi-dismissing them as lazy homage.

In fact, by far and away the best moments were of director Fede Alvarez’s own invention; a harrowing moment involving an upturned truck, an attack courtesy of a syringe wielding ‘deadite’ and one of the greatest chainsaw moments in film history – given that I was making direct comparisons with all 3 previous Evil Dead films that is a lofty compliment indeed!

Also worth complimenting is the performance of Jane Levy as Mia. The film pretty much rests on the believability of her emotional journey and commitment to a very physical role. It is fortunate then, that she pulls it off big time! She is totally convincing and at times pant soilingly terrifying.

My main gripe with the film was that it did feel like it placed shock value above all else. The demon attacks and gory moments came one after the other but felt very much like a string of single, gross out events rather than a well tied whole. I also felt that it lacked some of the insanity of Raimi’s original; the fact that Ash seemed to be under attack by the whole house, not just its inhabitants was so essential to the 1981 film, as was the level of suspense, which here isn’t used as much as it could have been.

Having read in the press that Alvarez, Rob Tappert and Bruce Campbell himself are keen to turn this new story into a trilogy, it will be interesting to see where it goes next. I’m not going to spoil anything but I will say that I felt this one film borrowed quite heavily from all 3 of the original Evil Dead films (yes even Army of Darkness….you’ll know when you see it). I would imagine that due to the much grittier, grounded (if that’s possible) nature of this new telling of the tale, it would be silly to suggest another trip back to medieval times…..but we can hope.

Aside from being picky this film is a brilliant experience! The terror is real, the pain is real, the fun is real and most importantly the blood is real. It’s about time we were given a modern horror that spends the time and money on great practical effects, and the results shriek for themselves (sorry).

Oooh and before I forget…stick around for the end of the credits. There is a stinger. It is short, but it is worth it!

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

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