The most terrifying film you will ever experience? Not really. I've seen much scarier. But, this new incarnation of one of the most beloved genre films of all time is much better than what we expected and it might very well be one of the most significant American horror films of the year. Here...let us discuss...shall we?
When plans for an Evil Dead remake were initially surfacing...you could almost hear the entire horror world (Film Deviant included) letting out a collective gasp. I mean...how in the fucky fuck could anyone in their right mind remake a horror film classic. How could anyone dream of remaking The Evil Dead? I mean....seriously.
Well, that answer lies in the words of Sam Raimi himself. Very early on...he's always mentioned how he would love to do a remake of the original Evil Dead film one day with a much bigger budget. He tried that with Evil Dead 2 and ended up making a stand-alone slap-stick comedy disguised as a gory horror film, instead. But, he's always kind of yearned to make the serious Evil Dead horror film he originally intended to do. So, after he lost the Spiderman gig...and his involvement with the new Hobbit films as well as the World of Warcraft film adaptation went south...he took on the new Oz the Great and Powerful ...thus leaving the long-rumored return to the Evil Dead franchise that he's always been teasing without a director. Then, it was announced that Raimi and camp hand-selected an unknown first-time director by the name of Fede Alvarez and that the original creators of the beloved classic would retain producer roles for the new installment. Things didn't seem so bad after all. We even offered our helpful advice on not screwing the whole thing up.
Then, the trailer hit...and all of our doubts and fears melted away. We simply had to see it. And so we did.
Evil Dead 2013 will definitely have its detractors...but, we're here to say that you need to see this film. If you love the original films...see this film. If you love horror movies and gore and creepy brutality...see this film. We live in a world where aimless horror films come out every year simply looking for a cash grab and never providing any real kind of terror or threat. This version of Evil Dead is the real deal. It was originally tagged NC-17 by the MPAA, for Christ's sake...using none other than practical FX and shunning CGI. It's an American horror film that goes for the throat...never once relenting until the credits role. And while you will definitely notice nods to the old films (an Oldsmobile here, a magnifying glass necklace there)...it is its own brutal entity delivering its horror from new directions...all while utilizing some of the old tricks that made the original film so great.
Now, I've read some of the harsh criticism stemming from fans of the original Evil Dead. Don't go into this film if you are already expecting to hate it. It's not an original take on the old formula as much as its a fresh re-take on the original formula. The original Evil Dead film had critics and audiences alike slamming the film for being such a sadistic one-note gore-fest that didn't really bring anything new to the genre. Well....it did. It brought us Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. And while this new film doesn't really give us anyone as iconic as those guys...it definitely brings its audience into an exciting dark new world full of gory deadite fun. And because this film is just too much horror hype for one critic to handle....I brought our long time collaborator, Jess Moreno, along for the wild ride...
BRYAN: What is your initial reaction after watching the new Evil Dead film?
JESS: Holy fuck....that was cool!
BRYAN: What do you think was cool about it?
JESS: Well, when I first heard of this remake I was kind of like 'yeah whatever' but now that I saw it I'm just like 'holy shit this is cool' what made it cool? I guess the fact that they gave this "Demon" a face...a manifestation. Like, you know, in the original it was just a book and a couple of tree branches...and ASH! Also the fact that we kinda got a background story as to why these "kids" went up to that creepy-ass cabin in the first place and, oh yeah...best part...was all of that wonderful blood!
BRYAN: One thing that I wanna point out is that both films have sort of the same tone. The very first film was meant to be a serious horror film when it first came out. However, Raimi didn't have the proper budget to make it exactly how he envisioned it so, he vowed to remake it one day once he had enough money and clout to do it justice. Do you think the remake did the original film justice in that regard?
JESS: I do, it was like The Evil Dead (1981) on these fucking great horror movie steroids! In my eyes it's one of the few remakes that actually does justice to the classics.
BRYAN: I thought the same way! Damn, 1981 seems so far away!
JESS: Yeah, man...you were probably in your, what, early 30's? and extremely excited to watch a film with sound
BRYAN: Hah! I see you brought some of your jokes with you today, huh? That reminds me....let's move right to the "tree rape" scene? how did that make you feel as a woman watching this Evil Dead film? I have to admit...it made me a little uncomfortable....however, I think the original version was way more brutal.
JESS: Oh man, I think they could've done better! She basically got eaten out this time by some nasty infected mouse tongue thing..yuck! I honestly prefer the original, ya know...much more sanitary...as horrible as that sounds, ha!
BRYAN: And then later on...there's that scene where she tries to kiss that other girl in the cellar. There's a lot of lesbian action going on here if you really think about it.
JESS: It was pretty kinky!!! I got a little excited for a second! I guess you have to be equal now, ya know? Sorta like a girl can do anything a guy can...even be a crazy demonic killing machine!
BRYAN: Yeah...I suppose. Interesting when you see it that way. I thought the whole drug thing was an interesting element. Maybe if they explored that a little more it might've been a deeper film. However, if you think about it...the original was pretty basic. Bunch of teenagers go to a cabin and get possessed...kinda like this one.
JESS: That is true..I did appreciate that little detail, although it would've been nice to see a bit more on it. One thing about this film I could've done without is that opening scene. Kinda stupid and useless, in my opinion
BRYAN: You mean how it attempted to add some "back story" to the whole Evil Dead mythos?
JESS: Yes! I don't feel it added much to it, I mean it could've been added as some sort of "flashback" when the guys entered the cellar and saw all that weird shit down there.
BRYAN: What did you think of the gory special effects in the film...it was soooo much better than all that CGI crap that you always see in horror films these days.
JESS: It was! Kinda like huge buckets of home made blood were being splattered everywhere and every single scrape/torn limb/nail to the body just looked so damn believable.
BRYAN: Oh my god...and that poor guy that kept getting hurt in every possible way!
JESS: Haha! Eric! Poor guy! He's a champ though! Anyone else would've died after that 50th stab wound!
BRYAN: Hahaha...that needle made me cringe a little.
JESS: Oh geez my eye started twitching! That was a pretty cool scene. I was wondering how he was able to see throughout the rest of the film though
BRYAN: So....finally...Evil Dead is upon us! Overall....how did you like the film...and would you recommend it?
JESS: I enjoyed the film alot! Which is shocking 'cause I usually dislike remakes. As a fan of the classic '81 cheesiness, I appreciated the little details this film kept and, amongst all things, I loved all of the gory-ness! Oh yes, let their be blood! The actors were awesome! I wish the dog would've stayed alive though and I could've done without all of the useless little details like the introductory scene and such. But, other than that, I think this film was awesome! Not only did it make it's daddy proud but it kinda made a name for itself. I would recommend this film to any horror lover
BRYAN: Awww....the dog! I honestly thought it was gonna turn into a deadite!
JESS: Yes the dog, I must admit my eyes watered on that scene! Haha! How awesome would that have been? A deadite dog! Evil Dead meets Pet Semetary!
While Jess and I enjoyed the film for what it was...a balls-out adrenaline rush of gory horror delivered in its most practical FX form. That's not to say that the film didn't have its flaws. As mentioned by Jess, that opening sequence...while creepy and brutal...didn't really do anything to add to the film. It was just kind of there and only served as a way to set up the tone of the film. Kinda like...here's our version of what deadites will look like...hope you like it...*wink, wink*.
And while Jane Levy was amazing in her portrayal of the film's center character...Mia. Her co-star, Shiloh Fernandez (playing Mia's brother, David) was kind of cardboard in the role. I thought he was going to be much better. We loved him in Deadgirl! Oh...and...as far as that after-credits scene goes...I sincerely wish they kept the rumored one that was apparently shot. I won't go into anything spoiler-specific...but, let's just say that...when you see it, it won't deliver the impact that the originally shot sequence could have. Hopefully, that'll be rectified in an unrated Blu-ray.
We gotta give Lou Taylor Pucci his due credit for playing the muchly beaten up Eric, who unwittingly summons the deadites back to the cabin. He's awesome in the role and one of the stand-outs of the film. More Lou Taylor Pucci, please!
Also, it's a beautiful film to look at. Director Fede Alvarez and cinematographer Aaron Morton do an great job of keeping the film moving, as well as, creating an amazing-looking horror film. Just kind wish Alvarez was given more stuff to do. While, you can definitely see a young and hungry director at work here, you can also feel the short leash of strict producers looking over the first-time director's shoulders at every turn. It is Evil Dead, after all. Hopefully, they'll give Alvarez more leeway for the sequel. Yes, there's already a sequel in the works...as well as a proposed Army of Darkness 2 coming!
In the end, this new version of Evil Dead is not to be missed. It is, perhaps, the goriest and most ballsy American horror film you will see in wide release at your local theater this year. Whether you like it or not...it is an important film for a landscape of American horror that has been neutered in recent years by sparkling vampires and love-struck zombies. If it indeed makes it to number one at the box office this weekend, it will sound the bell for true R-rated horror and will, hopefully, put all those tame PG-13 "horror" films to bed. Sam Raimi and company have succeeded in making an over-the-top addition to his beloved Evil Dead franchise...as well as opening the door to a much welcomed return to what made him who he is in the first place. It's 2013...and Evil Dead is out in theaters, people! And it's raining blood! What more do you want??
Thanks for reading,