Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues & Diablo Cody
When I first read of the upcoming remake of Sam Raimi's classic horror comedy Evil Dead (1981) I was instantly skeptical and distraught. I mean, this is one of the seminal works of 80s horror, not to mention horror cinema in general. It spawned the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, and was a fantastic riot on low-budget filmmaking and the blending of genre. I feel if your going to do a remake of a classic like this, it needs not to be too stylistic and must incorporate some of the gory, cheesy humor that made the original so great. Your not going to be able to have Bruce Campbell in it so your already at a loss there, but be honest to the material and be graphic. Also, all your effects need to be handmade and no computer generated nonsense. Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead (2013) remake fails on many levels but keeps it real with the expressive, offensive gore and limited, to no use of CG special effects.
I will try to keep this review spoiler free since the best way to see any film is with limited awareness but do understand it is extremely violent and graphic. Anyone reading this hopefully has seen the original and know the basis of the plot. In this version, five friends in their twenties travel to a remote cabin, being in the family ownership of brother and sister David (Shiloh Fernandez) and Mia (Jane Levy), to aid in countering and treating Mia's drug dependency. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) round out the group of friends and the madness begins. They discover a Book of the Dead that summons sleeping demons that attempt to take all of there lives. Mia is the first one taken and possessed by Hell and she goes after the other four cabin members attempting to bring them all to their ultimate demise.
I know that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, creators of the original, backed and supported this film and its new edge of violence and excessive blood, but I just was not completely satisfied with the end result. The acting felt to insanely bad instead of just being flat-out bad. Usually in these cheap horror films, and this had a reasonable budget of 14 million mainly due to fact of limited CG effects and no name actors with the exception of the little known Lou Taylor Pucci, but the acting was almost laughable. It was, in my opinion, not laughable in the way of adding a comical element to the film but just not talented. When Mia went to express a frightening emotion or the existence of a damaging presence it was so bad it was annoyingly unwatchable. Even if the film is a B-horror film it needs to at least try with the performances. I did not buy their acting and it was one of the biggest problems with the film, not that I was expecting Oscar worthy performances but give me something more.
The other problem I had with the film was the serious tone it contained. Where was that comedy that had been such an important aspect of the original? It kept the edge off the intense graphic nature of the material and it is what made it and Bruce Campbell classics. The look of the film, like most horror pictures was too perfect and moody. I did not like that part of it cause if felt like a studio picture, which it was, but took away from the free spirited and almost cartoonish nature of the original. The original was cheap. It looked cheap and focused on the makeup and intense camera work. I understand that this is stand alone film that appreciated the original but wanted to go in its own way and introduce the material to a new audience but like I have said before, it is the Evil Dead. It has to be funny and graphic and cheap.
The one thing that worked and I was very satisfied with was the complete lack of CG special effects. I applaud Alvarez and his team for keeping it honest in that way. It is graphic and the makeup is great. Bloody, sticky, gross and at times, well a lot of the time, extremely disgusting. If they were going for that utterly intense vomit-inducing gore they achieved it. Not that I got sick to my stomach but I could easily see where some would. It was so graphic at one time I saw three people walk out on the film, but who knows if they knew what they were getting themselves into when they went to see this film. It is always good to do a little research before going to the film.
In the end, I did not hate this remake of the Evil Dead, I kind of enjoyed it because it was technically interesting by avoiding CG effects in its production. A little more "Raimi cam" would have been nice but for all intensive purposes it is what it set out to be, a ultra graphic horror film. I recommend it if you just want to see a gross, escapist horror film or are curious of what they did with this remake of the original. It did not knock it out of the park since it was almost devoid of any humor but it will always be hard to top the amazing cheesy greatness of Sam Raimi's original horror comedy classic.