‘Evil Dead’ (2013) is a blood-drenched, vicious update of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic horror film.
The basic premise is essentially the same as in the original. Five people travel to a cabin in the woods where they discover an ancient book whose incantations release a demonic force once spoken aloud.
The execution of the premise, in this 2013 version, has been greatly intensified by better production values and a decidedly more serious approach to the story.
Gone is the character of Ash in favor of rebooting the story sans expectations and comparisons to Bruce Campbell’s previous performances. Lead actor Shiloh Fernandez is not Bruce Campbell; he isn’t supposed to be. Campbell’s broader acting style actually gave the audience of the original film some buffer between the intensity of some of the 1981 films scenes.
As it turns out, this and other plot and character changes all seem to work in director Fede Alvarez’s favor. Jane Levy, as ‘Mia’ deserves the recent media attention for her performance. At the end of the day, as far as acting talents are concerned, this is Levy’s movie.
This ‘Evil Dead’ is played straight and unrelentingly so. Alvarez’s film grabs you by the throat from the opening scenes and seldom loosens its grip on the audience.
Although the film runs at only approximately 90 minutes…it’s a fairly intense and gory hour and a half. To state that ‘Evil Dead’ defines a ‘hard R rating’ would be a gross understatement. The blood and other fluids seem to flow for the entire running time of the movie. This is an in-your-face, punch-in-the-stomach kind of horror film.
And it works.
There are a few surreptitious allusions to the previous film, but nothing that interferes with the experience for the audience. It’s only a slight wink to fans of the original. This ‘Evil Dead’ stands tall on its own merits as a great example of rebooting/remaking movies the right way. It’s scarier, gorier, has great sound mixing and camera work, tight pacing, and without any of the cheap ‘jump scares’ that most recent horror movies try to pass off as a substitute for creating tension.
It’s not without flaws, but this ‘Evil Dead’ is easily the scariest horror movie in years.
If you’re prepared to squirm in your seat, maybe all the way underneath it, then ‘Evil Dead’ is what you’ve been waiting for.
Update: ‘Evil Dead’ is now available on DVD and streaming.