Evil Dead (2013) (**)
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring – Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas, Shiloh Fernandez and Lou Taylor Pucci
(Movie House City Side 14/05/2013)
MOVIE producers should be careful what they put on their movie posters, with the tagline for this movie proclaiming it to be ‘the most terrifying film you will ever experience’, it’s surprising that no one has tried to sue those involved for false advertising such a proclamation, because this reimagining of Sam Raimi’s 1981 original just isn’t that scary. It relies heavily upon blood and gore for shock tactics, at the expense of any genuine scares.
Directed by Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez, who makes his feature debut with this project. Alvarez has made an array of talented short films, he was a somewhat surprising choice to direct this reboot, but at least the original director Sam Raimi remains on-board in a producing capacity. He’s joined by Rodger Tapert and Bruce Campbell all of whom financed the original feature, but viewers will be saddened that Campbell’s iconic chin is nowhere to be seen, with a new younger cast picking up the mantle.
When five friends travel to a remote cabin in the woods in an attempt to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) beat her ongoing drug addiction and rekindle her broken relationship with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez). But when the group discover a mysterious book bound in human flesh and wrapped in barbed wire, as they foolishly read the book’s incantations they unwittingly unleash an evil demonic presence that one by one attempts to possess there very souls.
As all hell is released upon the group, the film slowly becomes a continuous array of gory set-piece after another, some of which are truly shocking. But it felt more like the director was purposely trying to disgust viewers rather than attempting to scare them. It’s commendable that the filmmakers have attempted to do everything with practical effects rather than using digital CGI trickery, but the film’s main problem is that everything is taken far too seriously and lacks the dark twisted sense of humour of the original.
The 1981 version of Evil Dead earned cult status when it was placed on the video nasties list in the 1980’s. Famously it was labelled as ‘the number one nasty’ by Mary Whitehouse, but despite its excessive violence and gore there was a wonderful undertone of dark twisted humour running throughout the feature. Raimi famously described the film as being like the Three Stooges with blood and guts stepping in for custard pies. Sadly that sense of humour has been stripped away from this remake and the final result feels like an Evil Dead for the torture porn generation.
The film’s ending is silly and needlessly over the top, with its climax playing out as a metaphor for Maya’s attempt to beat her drug addiction. But it’s all too stuffy in comparison to the wonderfully uncontrolled lunacy of the original.
Fans of the original will more than likely turn their nose up at this attempted remake, after-all Raimi himself already remade the feature in all but name in 1987 with the Evil Dead II and that attempt was a much more enjoyable watch than this. For those who have never watched the 1981 version, I’d recommend sitting down to watch it instead, to see what an inventive little horror gem it was in comparison to this. When the film’s best moment is a great post-credits cameo it says it all really.
By William McClean