For fans of the original and for the younger generation horror fans, I am here to give my approval for Fede Alvarez’s new take on The Evil Dead. He has a clear understanding of what the “spirit” of The Evil Dead is and crafts a stellar and worthy upgrade. The marketing campaign claims that this will be “the most terrifying film you will ever experience,” which is not too far from the truth. Each horror fan will have their all-time fave but what you expect horror films to do Evil Dead does superbly. You will jump, your heart will race, you’ll cover your mouth and your eyes, and your brain will twist and twist. Maybe it won’t be the hands down most terrifying film you will have ever seen but it will definitely be one of them especially in the past five to ten years.
The basic premise is the same but he adds some spice to it including a background story. Unlike the original which starts off very calm and light-hearted, this film gets your heart pumping from the get-go. Without giving it away this is where we see what happened the last time this demon possessed somebody and what it took to stop it. As the scene ends the title, Evil Dead, appears proudly across the screen giving us a few seconds to settle our nerves and understand what kind of ride we are in for. Evil Dead is back… and it is back in full force.
Slight spoilers ahead…
Alvarez also gives a different reason as to why the five friends are in the cabin. Instead of just hanging out looking for a good time our main character, Mia (Jane Levy), is trying to recover from her heroine addiction – cold turkey style. Her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), David’s friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and his girlfriend Olivia (Jessica Lucas) are there to support her as they know she will go through withdrawal. Interestingly enough, the initials of the five characters spell out the word ‘demon.’ Olivia is a registered nurse so she knows what to expect and is prepared to treat Mia. As the group settles into the cabin they discover a cellar door. David and Eric venture in and discover signs of a fire, dead animals, and a book wrapped in barb-wiring. Eric becomes intrigued with the book and eventually decides to open it. He ignores a warning that says, “Leave this book alone.” He then begins to read a passage aloud and unknowingly unleashes a demon that then possesses Mia. Mia becomes sick and extremely paranoid. She vomits, she attempts to escape, and she becomes ‘delusional’ claiming that she saw something in the woods and that there is something evil with them in the cabin. Naturally, everyone assumes that all this is happening simply because she is going through withdrawal. Even when Mia finds a shotgun and nearly kills her own brother, they still do not realize what they are truly up against. It is not until one of the others becomes possessed that they finally understand that there is something more going on.
Once Mia reaches full-on possession the scares are nonstop. The makeup work on the possessed are deathly scary and it is good to know Alvarez chose not to use any CGI as a way to pay homage to the original. Some of the scariest moments are when the guys are put in a position where they have to kill their own possessed girlfriends as a last resort to defend themselves. You can really feel their emotions. I think the hardest scenes to watch were the self-mutilation scenes. One character sees a part of her body slowly deteriorating and knows if she doesn’t do something it will spread and she will then become possessed herself. She makes the hard decision. This was the hardest scene for me to watch but not by a long shot. There are plenty of other self-mutilation scenes some by the possessed others by victims.
This modernized retelling gets rid of all the bad acting, corny jokes, and stupid decisions made from the characters like, ‘Hello? Is someone out there in the dark woods? Hello? Well, if you’re not going to answer me then I’ll just step outside and look around until I found out who you are…’ *Classic* I do miss the baby doll demon from the original. She had a clown like look to her with a high-pitched eerie laugh and white eyes. Without the grotesque makeup job she was alarmingly freaky. I do appreciate the heroine addiction piece. It confuses the other characters who are already prepared for Mia to go out of control. Her guilt trips, her attempt to escape, her restlessness and vomiting, and even her lies and delusions are all behaviors of heroine withdrawal. The confusion really added another layer of complexity to the story.
If you love the psychological terror ride that horror movies can send you on then watching Evil Dead is an absolute must. It has it all – demon possession, haunting voices, people being burned and buried alive, limbs getting chopped off, and much much more. The term ‘blood galore’ doesn’t even begin to explain it. This is as gruesome as it gets. Fede Alvarez’s modernized take remains as savagely brutal as the original and receives full support from its original director, Sam Raimi, and actor, Bruce Campbell.
Fans of the original will want to stay for the end credits. As the credits finish, the audio tape that the characters listened to from the original Evil Dead can be heard. Then out of the blackness you see one of your favorite characters appear and in his own way gives his seal of approval for this film. I won’t tell you who but I’m betting you will only need one guess to figure it out.
I actually attended New York Comic Con last October and saw the screen panel for the Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell, Jane Levy, and Fede Alvarez were there and although I wasn’t really aware of who Levy and Alvarez were it really amazed me how supportive and adamant Bruce Campbell was about this movie. Seeing Campbell give his 100% full support for this film really showed that this isn’t just a remake simply to cash in but that this would be handled with care and integrity to the original. Now that I’ve seen it I can firmly say he wasn’t kidding.
I warned you!