If you’ve read article after article about the Evil Dead here at Shock, it doesn’t take much to put together that I really, truly enjoyed this movie. I think it’s savage, creepy and beautiful to look at. We did have a review come out of SXSW and it was rather unfavorable, so figured I’d balance it out with my own thoughts – and I’ll keep them brief sans the usual “this is what the whole movie is about.”
Time and time again, we’ve seen the “cabin in the woods” scenario play out in the genre. This hit its peak, I believe, with appropriately-titled The Cabin in the Woods. After that film’s release, where else was there to go? What more was there to say about this particular go-to situation for so many writers and directors? The answer, in Evil Dead‘s case, is to go as visceral as possible.
That isn’t to say it’s a completely brainless exercise in bloodshed, there’s a framework of a story albeit it’s a rather simple – if not cerebral – one…but the same could be said for the original film as well. Still, I liked the fact that this one introduced five 20-somethings who set out to the cabin to help their friend (Jane Levy) kick her drug addiction. It added a extra layer of drama. It offers some purpose and conflict. It certainly doesn’t bog down the first act and, damn it, I rather liked the performances Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Shiloh Fernandez were turning in (Elizabeth Blackmore was window dressing, more or less) until the shit hits the fan.
Once the blood begins to fly and limbs begin to get lopped off, it’s all about playing “fear” for the troupe and the cast excels, but the movie is owned by Levy’s possessed and positively wicked Mia. The actress knows how to work the make-up she’s in and deliver something gnarly. It goes without saying that there are others who get possessed and they shine as well, twitching away with the help of some solid and unsettling sound design.
But let’s get back to the visceral nature of Evil Dead. I know there are those who wanted a movie with more substance to it, but in my opinion, this was exactly what the remake needed to be: A simple scenario with gonzo blood-letting. Newbies to horror will go nuts for it; seasoned pros might yawn. I, on the other hand, tapped into my younger self and rolled with the film’s slick, grotesque roller coaster ride like I was back in high school discovering something like Dead Alive all over again. It is definitely an “audience experience” movie, to be sure, but I know there’s enough positive stuff going here to sate my appetite when I watch it solo at home. The film looks absolutely gorgeous, director Fede Alvarez’s direction is confident and energetic, I like that it plays it fairly straight and I don’t think I could ever say the film is a drag. Scary? Again, perhaps to the uninitiated. For those of us who have seen it all? I found some of the imagery disturbing, but nothing truly frightened me.
I do take issue with some third act story revelations, however, which I don’t want to spoil here. And “take issue” is maybe a bit too strong to say. I think it’s an interesting choice they made to set this remake apart from the original and it strengthens the arc of a particular character, I’m just not sure if I like the way they went about doing it. But once that revelation comes around, the rest of the movie is crazy-insane bonkers and I loved it.
Evil Dead is definitely one of the good eggs in the basket full of remakes we’ve been getting.