‘Evil Dead’ Delivers More Than Gore

by Brian Reeves on April 5, 2013

in Print Reviews,Reviews

evil-dead-remake-2013-movie-poster“What a terrible idea.”

That’s all I could think when I first heard they were remaking The Evil Dead. Once the credits started rolling however, a completely different phrase was in my mind: blood poetry.

This 2013 remake Evil Dead is wild. It’s violent. It’s intense. And it’s worthy of the name Evil Dead.

For anyone who, may your own personal deity of choice have mercy on your soul, have not seen the 1981 Sam Raimi classic here’s the basics: Some people drive to a cabin in the woods for a weekend, find a weird book, then all hell literally breaks loose. This retelling is a great example of how horror can still be inventive and bold even when revisiting old material, and I’ll get to all that in a moment.

But first, for anyone who’s seen and enjoyed either of the first two Raimi-directed Evil Dead movies, go see it. Do it now. It’s great. The next two paragraphs are for you, then I’d appreciate it if you left the room.

evil-dead-remake-movie-reviewIf you loved the original and aren’t sure it’s going live up to what you want, listen: I had my doubts too. Go see it. It has some great homage moments to the 16mm classic and 1987′s Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn larger-budget continuity-questionable sequel. Every single one of them works. Best of all, each tribute is handled with its own flair and twists. This new Evil Dead keeps the basics intact and works in ways befitting it’s namesake. It just adds to it. It adds things like — and this is even more of a spoiler then I feel comfortable giving — things like … a nail gun.

That’s all I’m saying. That’s all you get. The trailers have already spoiled too much. Don’t read anymore, just go. Come back later to see the rest of what I wrote, and let’s compare notes in the comments. Oh, and stick around for the credits. All of them.

Okay, back to the rest of you — the uninitiated.

evil-dead-remake-movie-reviewIn 1981, Sam Rami, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell made a movie for $90,000 that launched their film careers, lead to two sequels and a unique place in horror history. The original The Evil Dead is a true American horror classic. It’s a work of love and hardship that has generated a cult following over the last 30 years. Now this trio are the producers of director Fede Alvarez‘s remake. Alvarez’s first feature is a stirring piece of horror. It deserves a high level of respect. You can feel Raimi’s fingerprints all over this one too. It’s almost like it’s the Evil Dead he always wanted to make, but couldn’t. Hollywood has turned out a long list of remakes of classic horror films over the last decade. None of them have even come close to touching Evil Dead. This is horror perfection.

Four friends head to a cabin in the woods to help another through the challenges of cold-turkey drug withdrawal. Everyone is forced to face down their literal and figurative demons after stumbling onto a supernatural book that awakens a strange force in the woods, which starts possessing our house guests. It’s so cliché that the cliché was made into it’s own parody/tribute movie, last summer’s brilliant Cabin in the Woods.

evil-dead-movie-reviewYet back in the hands of a talented director and the men who helped create the idiom to begin with, it’s fresh and raw. The pacing is spectacular, the performances inspired, the tension is as thick as Karo-syrup blood, and some of the gore moments will have even the most experienced horror fan squirming in their seat.

Make no mistake, this is hard-R horror. It’s as bloody a major release as I can remember, but it’s also about people trying to fight their own demons and rarely winning. It’s very violent, but the performances and the tight camerawork create a claustrophobia reminiscent of the original Night of the Living Dead. With a dark sense of humor and constant tension, it consistently rises above your typical horror bloodbath at every turn.

I loved this movie. I’m not sure what else to say about it. Evil Dead never veers into cheap jump scares and false promises like a lot of bigger-release horror films. It’s taken what I was sure would be a disaster and made the best horror film I’ve seen in a long time.

Rock Fist Way Up. No question, no doubt. This is a must-see for even fringe horror fans.

Click here to read Scene-Stealers editor Eric Melin’s take on the Evil Dead remake at his Lawrence.com Scene-Stealers blog.

Brian loves horror movies, old-school heavy metal, and beer — not necessarily in that order. He also digs all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and is willing to fight people who actually think the Paranormal Activity series is scary because it’s not.

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