Welcome back to Weekend Movie Preview. Things have been pretty busy for me over the last month or so, which is why you haven’t seen as many of my movie reviews coming out. However I’m trying to get back into the swing of things and hope to deliver you guys with more regular columns. I had such fun at the theater this week, I felt like I just needed to share my thoughts on the new “Evil Dead” and “Jurassic Park 3D.”
Five twenty-something friends spend a weekend at a remote cabin, where they discover a Book of the Dead and accidentally summon demons residing in the nearby woods. Slowly, the evil starts to possess each of them until there’s only one left fighting for survival.
Director/Writer: Newcomer Fede Alvarez
Co-Writers: Diablo Cody (“Juno,” “Young Adult”) and Rodo Sayagues
Producers: Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert who created “The Evil Dead”
MY TAKE: As a big-time horror junkie, I consider Sam Raimi’s film “The Evil Dead” to be a sacred work. The 1981 flick is far from perfect, but its inventiveness was impressive despite its tight production budget. So when I learned that the picture was being redone, I was afraid that an unimaginative remake would tarnish the reputation of the series. Thankfully though, Fede Alvarez’s “Evil Dead” assuaged my fears and surpassed my expectations.
Alvarez’s film represents a rare instance where the remake actually improves upon the original, using advanced technology and a higher budget effectively to create a more gruesome horror movie. Alvarez’s version takes a refreshing approach to the premise as well, with new characters and a story which is delightfully less straightforward than it initially appears.
Additionally, fear and paranoia is greater in Alvarez’s “Evil Dead” as a result of the circumstances which bring these young people to the cabin. One of them is there to kick her drug addiction, so once she’s in withdrawal and crazy stuff starts happening, the others just think she’s hallucinating at first. When everyone finally realizes what’s going on, it’s fun for the audience to watch them flip their lids.
This “Evil Dead” is incredibly satisfying because it tickles you in all the places that the original does and even some it doesn’t. That’s because it’s able to take its nastiness to heights that Raimi’s version couldn’t reach due to budget and censorship. Those who know the series will understand what I mean when they see it. (Hint: trees are involved.)
The film doubles down on gore, delivering gallons of blood and plenty of disgusting scenes that will satiate horror fiends. Plus the evil creatures, the deaddites, are absolutely repulsive, doing and saying all kinds of horrifying, perverse things as they torture our protagonists. (Imagine: tongue + boxcutter.) I found myself wincing and squirming during the movie, which doesn’t happen often.
Perhaps the most impressive piece about this “Evil Dead” though, is that there’s very little CGI. Alvarez and his team still use almost entirely practical effects to achieve their thrills and chills, which worshippers of the original will really enjoy.
Fans of Raimi’s franchise: don’t bother searching for a new Ash/Bruce Campbell, because you won’t find him. You’ll discover subtle nods to Raimi’s “Evil Dead,” if you look closely enough however. Also, you’ll get to learn more from the movie’s famous maguffin, the Book of the Dead, something that should please you.
If there’s anything wrong with this movie, it’s that it lacks heart. The same passion that the original was made with just isn’t there. Also, the lead characters say and do stupid things and although we get to know them better than we’d expect in a horror film, none of them have particularly memorable personalities. Since the movie is straight horror without any camp, it takes itself a bit too seriously as well.
In a time of uninspired retreads and dulled-down PG-13 horror flicks, I’m glad that Alvarez’s “Evil Dead” turned out to be neither. I love that it wasn’t afraid to try something different or to test our stomachs in the process.