Editor’s Note: Evil Dead opens on April 5th. If you’ve already seen the film we’d love to hear your thoughts on it, or if you’re looking forward to seeing it this weekend, please tell us in the comments section below or in our new Next Projection Forums.
It’s almost mandatory that every landmark horror film be remade and modernized for a new generation; A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, The Omen, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and countless others have been given the remake treatment. It was only a matter of time before they got to The Evil Dead. For remakes to stand on their own, they have to breathe a new life into the material, doing so in a way that makes it seem like they are unaware that what they’re doing has been done before. In Fede Alvarez’s feature debut Evil Dead, the movie is completely aware that what it’s doing has been done before.
It’s a decidedly slow opening to a horror movie, with the intent of establishing characters and clarifying an emotional plotline. The problem is that, with the exception of Levvy, none of the cast members are really good actors.
As the movie begins, a group of friends returns to a childhood cabin to help Mia (Jane Levy) quit her drug addiction. Shiloh Fernadez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Elizabeth Blackmore star as the other four members of the group. It’s a decidedly slow opening to a horror movie, with the intent of establishing characters and clarifying an emotional plotline. The problem is that, with the exception of Levvy, none of the cast members are really good actors. They’re fine for a horror movie, but they betray how weak the film’s script really is. After Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric discovers a Book of the Dead in the cabin’s basement and begins to read aloud from it, things begin to take an evil turn. Eric has no reason to read from this book, except that the script requires him to do so. It’s a painfully lazy way of setting events in motion.
This is easily the bloodiest horror film I have ever seen. Limbs are severed, tongues slit down the middle, wounds duct taped, and faces slit open by glass shards. What makes these scenes so effective is the film’s reliance on practical effects over CGI, but the fact remains that they’ve all been done before and are being updated just to be more violent and bloody. Still, Evil Dead offers plenty of entertaining moments for horror fans. It’s a film that takes itself very seriously, and as the film moves closer to the end, Alvarez shows no restraint. No longer held back by having to pay tribute to the original film, you can almost see him gleefully chuckling behind the camera as he puts his characters through hell. It’s a wonder this film wasn’t stamped with an NC-17 rating.
Evil Dead offers plenty of entertaining moments for horror fans. It’s a film that takes itself very seriously, and as the film moves closer to the end, Alvarez shows no restraint.
Imagine if J.J. Abram’s upcoming Star Wars movie constantly referenced famous moments and lines from George Luc as’ films. It would feel more like a fan movie remembering the good old days than a movie that honors its predecessor while bringing something new to the table. Evil Dead constantly references moments from Sam Raimi’s original cult trilogy, from chainsaws and a Book of the Dead to creepy trees and a certain 1973 Oldsmobile. Alvarez shows talent as a director, and is clearly capable of staging some really great sequences, but until he’s blessed with the opportunity to bring something of his own to the table he won’t have the chance to fully realize his potential.
[notification type=”star”]50/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. Evil Dead is one of the bloodiest films ever made and will easily please any horror fan, but it is held back by its desire to constantly reference the original film and its reluctance to bring something new to the table.[/notification]