Written by Joe Langham
Before the Spiderman trilogy, Drag Me to Hell and more recently Oz: The Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi stuck to low budget horror films. He made somewhat of a name for himself in 1981 with the influential, brutal and darkly comical Evil Dead, which has garnered a cult following over the years. Step up Fede Alvarez, the young, currently unknown, director of the 2013 Evil Dead remake.
Whilst remakes are usually better never made, this one has the seal of approval from joint producers Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. This is possibly one of the reasons that many fans of the original have been anticipating the latest installment of the film franchise. The film cannot fully be considered a strict remake; Alvarez has rather taken the skeleton of the original and added his own flesh and life to it. It can also loosely be considered as a sequel. Raimi and Campbell held a Dragons Den style audition for directors, rejecting pitches that swam too close to the original or contained Ash. This is most likely why a young Uruguayan with no experience of Hollywood cinema managed to grab the honour of directing this film rather than an established director. For Fede Alvarez, Evil Dead 2013 is a debut on two accounts as it is his first English language film and first feature film.
The film begins with a pretext to the cabins history that the young group of friends later descend upon. After the initial title card we are introduced to the soon to be victims of the ancient Necronomicon curse. This introduces an underlying drug rehabilitation subplot as we learn Mia, played by Jane Levy (Shameless), is being brought to the cabin to try to kick her drug habit picked up after losing her mother. This inevitably does not work however, since she ends up with more demons inside her than she came with. The rest of the cast are made up of equally young actors consisting of Elizabeth Blackmore (Home and Away) as Natalie, Jessica Lucus (90210) as Olivia, Lou Taylor Pucci (Brotherhood, Carriers) as Eric and Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood) as Mia’s brother David.
Everything seems to be going okay for the group until they come across a particularly gruesome discovery in the cellar, along with the Naturom Demonto, an ancient book bound in human flesh. Things go from bad to worse as Eric, despite warnings scrawled in blood, recites words from the book thus unleashing its curse. It is at this point Mia attempts to escape through the woods, which results in her getting attacked by the cursed forest and so begins her possession. Mia’s condition deteriorates as her behaviour becomes more bizarre, which the dim-witted youths put down to her drug withdrawal rather than anything supernatural. Cue a gloriously bloody and violent second half of the film.
The film is much more gory and violent than the original with one scene using a massive 50000 gallons of blood, which is around a thousand bathtubs full to the rim with blood. Some scenes even make various scenes from Tarantino films seem tame. One particular brutal scene in the bathroom was very similar to the fire extinguisher scene in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. YouTube it if you are not familiar, although you have been warned. What is impressive about the effects too is that 99% of them are practical, meaning no CGI was used, just like in the 1981 version. The only time CGI was used was to remove stunt harnesses and wires. The team behind the effects definitely need commending for what they have created.
The performances are not amazing, but horror films are not generally known for their powerful acting. To say most of the cast have their background in TV and this is a first in Hollywood acting for them, they did pretty well. In fact, ironically, one of the weakest performances comes from Pucci, who has the most experience in Hollywood films. Jane Levy was particularly impressive as the possessed Mia and it was hard not to compare some of her lines to that of the demonic Reagan in The Exorcist. There are visual similarities there too. The film has a lingering feeling of European horror and combined with the American splatterfests we are used to, Evil Dead makes very interesting viewing. The combination is rather interesting.
Some have compared this Evil Dead to The Shining, however these comparisons have no base; they are both different kinds of films. The Shining is based on slow ratcheted mental horror whilst this is more visually horrific. The only links one could draw, if any, would be the isolated locations and a terrifying discovery in a bathroom.One bad thing about film is that much of the dark comedy that made the original so popular has been lost. Besides a couple of fairly humorous one liners, comedy is non-existent in this version. What Alvarez has done however, is make it more indulgently gory than the original. The darker tone of this film has not really left any room for comedy anyway.
The credits were also very creative and are worth staying to admire after the film is over. If you do there is also a little surprise right at the end, which fans will surely enjoy. It is obvious a lot of effort has been put into every creative aspect of the film and it does not seem right not to watch it right up until the absolute end. The creative team have not forgotten the fans of the original trilogy either, with plenty of Easter eggs present in the film including a cameo from Bruce Campbell and the Oldsmobile Delta 88, which we see decaying in the woods at the beginning.
Evil Dead is out in cinemas nationwide from April 19th