Review: Evil Dead is terrifying fun
“Everything’s going to be fine,” is a line repeated several times in the new Evil Dead film, and although those calming words become increasingly meaningless for the five friends fighting to survive the horror of the Naturom Demonto (Book of the Dead), Evil Dead fans can rest assured that the classic franchise is indeed “fine” and maybe even better with this re-visitation of that horrific universe.
That’s right, the new Evil Dead film is not a remake of the Sam Raimi original – or even a sequel – rather it’s a “rebirth,” just as the trailer states, and a respectful companion piece meant to co-exist within the mythology of the original film trilogy. But don’t let timelines and structured order get in the way of enjoying this entertainingly unsettling ride.
The film opens with a prologue that has a young girl being captured and restrained in a certain cabin basement by some gnarly looking redneck types in a sequence that looks more like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre than Evil Dead. But it turns out the rednecks are the good guys and the girl’s father — a nerdy scientist type — appears and helps to put an end to the evil demon that has possessed his daughter.
NERDVANA NOTE – Now it’s just speculation on my part, but I think the girl’s father (from the prologue described above) is actually the same scientist who made the tape recordings with the incantations from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis that summoned the spirit in the original Evil Dead. After you see the movie, let us know what you think!
After the prologue we’re introduced to the five friends of this film, meeting up at a remote cabin in the woods in an intervention effort to help Mia (Jane Levy) overcome her drug addiction by keeping her isolated from the outside world while she goes through withdrawals.
The other archetypal friends include Nurse Practitioner Olivia (Jessica Lucas), nerdy smart guy Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), their cute sexy friend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and Mia’s estranged brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez). On a fun note, the first letters of the five friends’ names spell D.E.M.O.N. (David, Eric, Mia, Olivia, Natalie), just one of the many inside gags interspersed throughout the movie, which also contains many nods to the original films. (Be sure to stay through all of the credits until the lights come on.)
The rest of the story sounds very familiar in that the Naturom Demonto is found in the basement and after the infamous incantation is read the friends are terrorized by the horrific demon that has been inadvertently unleashed upon them. But even though the basis of the story is well known, there is enough originality to make it feel new and refreshing – you know, in a pungent and monstrous way.
It is a very interesting and logical twist to have the group meeting to help Mia with her drug addiction and it helps the film’s narrative to make intelligent sense in that the group, at first, thinks Mia is just hallucinating and combating her more earthly internal demons.
This Evil Dead is smartly written (with Rodo Sayagues) and directed by an exciting newcomer, Fede Alvarez, who was handpicked for the job by the original Evil Dead creator/director, Sam Raimi. In fact, Raimi and Evil Dead’s iconic star, Bruce Campbell, are the producers of this film. After interviewing Mr. Alvarez recently, it’s easy to see that Raimi and his new director have a lot in common and are surely kindred spirits.
This film touts the bold tagline, “The most terrifying film you will ever experience!” Whether or not that lofty promise is fulfilled may be debatable, but I absolutely love the marketing hubris and the tagline alone puts a smile on my face. The movie IS extremely creepy, fantastically frightening and a lot of fun whether you are a fan of the franchise or completely new to the Evil Dead universe. This movie was made without the use of CGI effects and it is certainly an old school type of horror movie, which is a refreshing change from the torture porn (see Saw) that has become so trendy in today’s horror genre.
I saw Evil Dead II before seeing the original Evil Dead, and although I have a lot of respect for the first film and its history, I always felt it was lacking in comparison to the other two films in the trilogy. While the Alvarez Evil Dead (2013) is not really a remake or a sequel, I think it is much better than the original film and a very nice chapter in the Evil Dead mythos. Grade: 8/10
Photos © 2013 TriStar Pictures, Inc.