As a group of college-aged friends convene at a remote cabin to help one of their friends go cold turkey, none of them is prepared for the ancient evil that is unleashed when one of them reads from a mysterious text.
Directed by Fede Alvarez, who was hand-picked by franchise creator Sam Raimi, Evil Dead stars Jane Levy as Mia, Shiloh Fernandez as David (Mia’s brother), Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia, and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie.
Evil Dead originally garnered an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but has been edited down to receive an R – which was contractually obligated. After seeing an advance screening of Evil Dead in Seattle, I shudder to think what the NC-17 version contains. Maybe we’ll get a taste on DVD/Blu-Ray…
When pressed to sum up this sequel – that’s right, it’s a sequel, not a remake – one word comes to mind: Ruthless.
Fede Alvarez has created a completely ruthless film. He doesn’t simply allow the events of Evil Dead to unfold – he projects them into and against and on top of his characters violently and with extreme prejudice. All bets are absolutely off.
This is not a Sam Raimi film, people, and while this is a sequel to the 1981 beloved classic, The Evil Dead, Alvarez has taken the franchise into a very dark, very extreme new direction. I mean, at one point, it literally rains blood. Blood. It rains blood. It’s a special effects orgy the likes of which you’ve rarely (if ever) seen.
Let’s break it down. WARNING SPOILERS!
The basic premise is that Mia (Levy) has asked her friends to stay with her at the family cabin while she tries (again) to quit using drugs, cold turkey. Apparently, she’s tried once before and now, following a drug overdose, believes there is no other way forward but to attempt to quit again. With her wayward brother, David (Fernandez), present, Mia begins the very ugly process of detoxing.
Within hours, Eric (Pucci), who is a teacher and damnably curious, begins reading from the Necronomicon — insert audience groans and laughter here because, after all, everyone knows what happens when you read from the Necronomicon!! – which the group has found in the basement, along with other assorted sundry like … dead cats! Lots and lots of dead cats. So many dead cats that it’s a wonder no one but Mia was able to smell their stench until the basement’s hatch door has been opened.
As the drugs begin to leave Mia’s body, the group decides they have no choice but force her to stay at the cabin – even if it’s against her will. When Mia begins to freak, she steals the keys to her brother’s Jeep and crashes it in a nearby bog.
If you’re like me, you’ll be groaning at this point. I mean, fearing for Mia’s life, maybe her friends could have tried a little harder to hinder her escape … I mean, how hard is it to hide a set of keys?
As Mia wanders the woods, injured, she is assaulted and the ancient evil enters her body. You can probably imagine what happens next … no? Well, let’s just say all Hell breaks lose and no one, I mean no one, will leave the cabin untouched by what has been unleashed.
There are some obvious weak points in Evil Dead, but since this is a film that purports being the “most terrifying film you will ever experience” we should start with the rules of horror.
Most notably, you need to make your audience care about the characters – any of them, and at least one. In Evil Dead, we have a young woman who is addicted to drugs – presumably because of the grief she suffered watching her mother die while she languished in a mental institution. We also have her big brother, David, who ran from their life and their mother as soon as he could and hadn’t been back since. David and Mia’s relationship is troubled and weak.
Then, we have three ancillary characters – Eric, Olivia, and Natalie – for whom very little insight is ever provided. Eric, who is to blame for unleashing the evil this time around, is really the only truly lovable character because he never stops trying, even when everyone and everything around him means him harm.
Ultimately, I couldn’t and didn’t identify with any of the characters – but maybe you will. Even if you don’t, Evil Dead is still one hell of a ride.
And so, without having a solid emotional anchor for Evil Dead, the grim, violent events unfold before an audience that will not necessarily care. In a way, that’s all right. After all, you don’t really need to care about the characters to be totally, completely, and utterly grossed out … right?
In the end, Alvarez’s Evil Dead feels more like a means to an end – the end being the ghastly display of blood and gore and sfx wizardy – rather than Raimi’s signature blend of comedy, horror, and action that made The Evil Dead so endearing.
It is the film’s obvious and familiar nods to Raimi’s The Evil Dead that make the film feel like it is (maybe) a member of the family – the POV camera work that swoops through the forest, Mia inside the cabin’s walls, the chainsaw, David’s denim shirt. But, make no mistake, Alvarez’s Evil Dead is it’s own unique animal – complete with it’s own set of rules and definitely not for the weak stomached.
Official Site: Evil Dead (2013)