Squeamish need not apply
First time director reimagines cult classic with copious gore
Do blood and gore make you squeamish? Do you like your movies to have some semblance of “good taste”? Stop reading this review. You don’t want to see this movie. Evil Dead is the goriest, dismember-iest,eye stab-iest, and tongue splitting-iest you’ll see get a major studio release this year. And I loved it.
In this remake of the 1981 Bruce Campbell vehicle, friends David (Shiloh Fernandez), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) head up to David’s secluded cabin to help his little sister Mia (Jane Levy) kick her heroin addiction. While exploring the cabin ‘s grotesque cellar full of mummified cats, Eric finds a book bound in flesh, and after reading aloud from its pages, chaos ensues. Mia is possessed and begins to terrorizing her friends in some of the most imaginatively cruel ways as possible. From here on, the film hits the ground running and doesn’t stop.
The one thing I absolutely must say to fans of the original is to not expect this to be the campy gorefest that was the original. First things first, the original wasn’t meant to be campy, it was meant to be a true horror movie. The campy-ness was just a product of ’80s limitations. Secondly, as hard as it may be, try to let this movie stand on its own, you will enjoy it that much more. Also, both the director and the producer of the original film – Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, respectively – were onboard with this reboot, including Campbell himself, and all have publicly endorsed this reimagining. Raimi might’ve been the best about hyping the film, amping up fans by saying the remake is “so bloody it’ll make your head spin,” and it delivers. Apparently for the final sequence alone, a truck arrived bearing 50,000 gallons worth of gore.
What director Alvarez really needs to be commended for is the realism of the films goriest segments. Alvarez was very adamant about using only practical effects, even going so far as to go on record saying there was no CGI in the film. This contributes so much to the movie, and is really admirable to see in a big budget horror film these days, as you’ll see many directors take the easy way out and splatter unrealistic computerized gore all over the screen. The real thrill of the film comes from guessing how Alvarez plans to top the previous scene of carnage, which he continually does. Just when you think he’s run out of ways to make you cringe he takes it to the next level. With no restrictions of aforementioned “good taste” Alvarez really had free reign, and it shows. This also helps clear up any misinterpretation of the film as mean-spirited. Gore is flung at the screen with reckless abandon, and although it looks as realistic as a self-amputation can be, it’s approached and depicted in a very unrealistic manner. You’ll find yourself frequently thinking there’s no possible way a human being could survive that much bodily harm, and that’s the point.
There are a few small gripes in this otherwise stellar film, one is that there is close to zero characterization outside of Mia and David. The worst though, has to be Natalie, she’s introduced as David’s girlfriend, and that’s it. Also, the middle starts to feel a little padded. Once Mia is “possessed” early on in the film, Evil Dead kicks into high gear and doesn’t stop… except for the aforementioned scene towards the latter half of the second act. The movie slows down for this sweet moment, and for the most part, it feels out of place. But the disappointment quickly dissipates, as Alvarez and crew add everyone’s favorite power tool of evisceration made famous by the likes of Leatherface. Yes, a chainsaw.
There have been two big claims surrounding this remake. One, that it’s the gorriest thing you’ll see this year. Well, in terms of major studio releases, that’ll probably be true. Overall, probably not, those French have really been pushing the envelope with the likes of Martyrs and Frontiers in recent years. Second, that’s it the most terrifying thing you’ll see this year. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. We still have James Wan’s (of Saw and Insidious fame) The Conjuring hitting theaters this July, looking to continue his recent trend of making terrifying supernatural horrors. Besides, the “jump scares” are fairly predictable. I think this is mostly because they weren’t necessarily trying to make you jump, just get you excited for the carnage to come. As it stands, this is probably the best horror remake we’ll see this year, maybe ever. This movie is clearly a product of love for the franchise, not just a simple cash-in. It pays tribute to a classic, nailing the original’s intended tone and paying homage to it, while simultaneously blazing its own path and surpassing the original in certain aspects.
Evil Dead’s target audience is blatantly clear. It’s for fans of the original, the gorehounds, and horror fans in general. It’s there for those who have been waiting and waiting for its release since the red-band trailer dropped last year. It’s not for those concerned with the genre’s accusations of misogyny or racism. It’s not for the squeamish. While I would recommend the movie to everyone, I realize it’s not for everyone. By now you should know if this your type of movie. Everyone else stay far, far away.
Score: 4 1/2 out of 5 feathers
Info: Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
Run time: 1 hr., 31 min.
Director: Fede Alvarez
Staring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore