Blood, mayhem, tension, fear, addiction and chain saws encompass the new remake of Evil Dead. Written and directed by newcomer Fede Alvarez, and based on the 1981 Sam Raimi original, it has been touted as, “The Most Terrifying Film You’ll Ever See”. Does it stand up to that statement? Find out after the jump.
Mia (Jane Levy) has decided to go cold turkey in an attempt to battle her serious heroin addiction. Her friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) want to do everything they can to ensure she’ll beat her nasty drug addiction. In true teen horror film fashion, they decide to take her to an almost abandoned cabin in the woods. It’s a million miles from all forms of civilization, you know so their screams can’t be hear- I, I mean so they can avoid all forms of temptation. That oughta do it.
Shortly after their arrival, Eric Finds a mysterious book with strange engravings…. written in blood….instructing anyone who’s reading it to never read aloud a particular section of the book….which is also written in blood. Oh gee, do you think he’ll abide? What ensues is a night of chaos, self-mutilation and an all out full frontal assault from an evil force that wants each and every one of their souls. Will Mia survive this insidious entity whilst battling her addictions? Can any of them make it out alive despite being a million miles from anywhere? And if any of them survive, will they learn their lesson and not read from a book written almost entirely in blood?
Fede Alvarez has stated that he wanted practical effects rather than CGI; and having being absolutely terrified by Raimi’s original film wanted to make an Evil Dead for this generation that was as horrific and scary as the original. I can say right here and now that the last ten minutes of this film definitely fit that description. The film’s finale feels like the film Alvarez wanted to make. It’s a love letter to the gory, relentless, practical horror films of the 70’s and 80’s, that young horror based film-makers struggle to replicate. So why doesn’t the first 81 minutes feel like the last ten? Where does Alvarez not make good on his intentions?
The teens/young adults in the original film were not very intelligent. Granted, most youngins in horror films are not. But when you are EXPLICITLY instructed by a book that has a cover that resembles human flesh to not read a particular part of its contents aloud, YOU LISTEN TO THE BOOK. The camera close-ups on all the blood engraved warnings as Pucci’s character turns each page, reminds us throughout the film that the sheer terror that surfaces could easily be avoided….if only these people weren’t so damn stupid. It’s frustrating and very irritating. If this were in a horror film made in the early 80’s, the film-makers would have done all they could to convince you that the characters were not as stupid as they seemed. Alvarez does not care. His interest doesn’t lie in performances, dialogue or rationality of these characters. His speciality is bloodshed.. and only bloodshed.
When you don’t care for a single character in a horror film things get very boring, no matter how grotesque things get. As a result, almost all the scares are diminished. It’s a real shame as most of the technical aspects in Evil Dead are incredible. Use of digital photography is fantastic, giving the film a grimy yet polished look that suits the insidious nature of the thing after them all. If only a screenplay were incorporated…imagine what film we could have seen.
Performances, [and it breaks my heart to say this] are unconvincing, except for those give by Levy, Pucci and Blackmore. I believed they were possessed and fearful in some way, despite some of the TERRIBLE dialogue they’re blurting out. Conviction and believability, and to some degree scares evolve from it should be at the forefront of horror films; but sadly they are not in Evil Dead.
I wanted to be scared by Evil Dead. I really did.
By Chris Elena
Director: Fede Alvarez
Writer(s): Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore, Jessica Lucas and Shiloh Fernandez
Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: May 9, 2013; New Zealand; April 19, 2013; USA: April 5, 2013