Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guest Review: Evil Dead (2013) is a solid horror remake...

Evil Dead
92 minutes
Rated R

Evil Dead is a surprisingly faithful yet reimagined retread of the legendary Sam Raimi film that pushes the limits of commercial theatrical wide release horror films.  This is a horror film that isn't afraid or ashamed to be one.  With a intense, blood-drenched finale that should leave a packed theater cheering, Evil Dead falls on the side of good remakes.

The story of this iteration of Evil Dead surrounds a girl, Mia (Jane Levy), who is being taken out to an old abandoned secluded cabin, once owned by her family, to hopefully detox her current drug problem.  Along the way to assist, are 2 of her friends and her brother with his girlfriend.  Upon exploring a smell in the basement, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and David (Shiloh Fernandez) find a ritualistic set of dead cats and the Book of the Dead.  After reading some passages, wild things begin to happen to Mia.  Should her friends believe the things she says or is it her trying to escape cold turkey detox?

The biggest shock I had with 2013’s Evil Dead was how much it follows beats and directions of the original.  The characters, settings, events are all very similar.  The film adds a much more weight and depth to them this time around though.  There’s a whole other “important film” type story that in the middle of this supernatural disaster that’s going to happen.  The characters aren't just “there” this time around.  There’s a lot more going on in the way of the choices, actions and decisions made by all of them.  Its quite fun and sometimes you’re sitting there and realizing you might be seeing the same thing comes as almost a surprise plot twist.  They also play with what you think may happen based on your prior knowledge.  It’s a fun little game the Fede Alvarez and company have going on.

Fede Alvarez delivers a film with the look and feel of a Alexandre Aja film.  If one had to go blind and guess who directed this movie, I’m guessing he’d be the most popular answer.  Alvarez populates this attractive with an abundance of gross real/fun practical effects that the horror genre seems to have been lacking for years.  This film has some great work going on, it knows it, and it flaunts it every chance it gets.  So many great prosthetics and genuine looking terror floods the film.  For someone who loves stuff like that, it was greatly appreciated.  There is unfortunately one brief use of noticeably poor CGI, but it’s early on. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the Unrated cut when it hits Blu-Ray.  This film will put smiles on horror fans’ faces and keep the hands planted over the eyes of the casual filmgoer.

The actors in this film all appear to have been put through the Bruce Campbell gauntlet.  Everybody gets messy, everybody gets beat up.  It’s quite impressive.  I was notably impressed by Jane Levi and Lou Taylor Pucci.  All the actors turn in pretty solid performances for a horror movie.  Only one cast member seems to be noticeably subpar, but doesn’t have enough lines to really get a good grasp on that.  Jessica Lucas was the only recognizable cast member for me going in.

While I say the film keeps faithful to the original and does keep to the tone, it’s a bit of a different tone.  Whereas the deadites in the original took joy in making a living hell for Ash and the others before killing them or possessing them, these deadites seem to be just straight up killing machines.  Mia’s deadite is the only one who attempts any real form of communication.  The original’s all were discernable and had character, these are all pretty much monotonous one-note beings.  They brings the intensity, but in a killing machine type of way, not a “haunt you in your sleep” fashion.

The film’s final act plays for a great amount of suspense driven fun.  The film gets loud, the gore hurts and you’re on your tip toes seeing how it will finish.  The setting for it is infinitely cool in spectacle and I really couldn’t get over how sweet it looked.  But once that’s over and the credits roll, please stay to the end.  90% of my screening had cleared out and missed an absolute money tag at the end.

Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead delivers an eventful rendition on an original classic.  The new Evil Dead gives more depth and takes the story to some new, welcome places.  It’s definitely a worthy remake and a nice introduction for younger people to this legendary cult series.  This is definitely a movie to see with a packed late night weekend crowd on opening weekend.  Even if you’re desensitized to gore, you’ll appreciate the practical work done and squeamish cries from the people sitting in the row behind you.  This film isn't ashamed of the genre its in and makes no apologies for it.  Believe the chainsaw buzz, this film is bloody fun!

Grade: B+

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