Sunday, 3 November 2013

They Made Me do It Again #6 : Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead is a 2013 horror remake of the 1981 film of the same name. Directed by  Fede Alvarez (Panic Attack) starring Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Shiloh Fernandez (Dead Girl) and Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield). The film was also produced by original Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell.

Evil Dead follows the same basic plot as the original in that it follows a group of young adults as they head out to an ominous cabin in the woods for the weekend but end up finding the Necronomicon, read from it and summon the forces of evil. The slight twist to the remake is that Mia (Levy) is a a drug addict willingly participating in an intervention staged by her brother David (Fernandez), friend Olivia (Lucas) and other buddies as she attempts to go cold turkey once again. As the effects of drug withdrawal can be markedly similar to demonic possession it takes the group a while to realise that they've accidentally summoned the evil dead and as the events in the Necronomicon unfold before there eyes, they must sacrifice Mia if they have any hope of surviving the night.

The flaws of The Evil Dead are as obvious as they are frustrating, for the most part it's a shoddy script given to shoddy actors. I can't tell you the last time I squirmed so much at movie dialogue and it's delivery but it was probably in a sy-fy movie and ultimately gave me a laugh. This didn't make me laugh and I expected a lot more from such a big budget movie that had supposedly been in the works for years and been worked on by several screenwriters (including Cody Diablo of Juno/Jennifer's Body acclaim). By the same token I felt horribly misled by the film's marketing and statements from Alvarez himself stating that this would be a serious take on the premise. The action and tropes on display in the movie are as hokey and cliched as anything you'd find in an 80s horror film and nothing makes my eyes roll more than a possessed character spouting profanity complete with awful "demon-voice" effects.

That being said, there are a lot of things to like here as well. Alvarez's direction is excellent from the opening upside down vista to the immersive crash zooms and fantastic lighting  he really knows how to create atmosphere and has a bright future in filmmaking. Couple this with the excellent score and sound effects department and you get an intense, visceral cinema experience that is best experienced either in the cinema or with a good pair of headphones for maximum effect. Speaking of viscera, this is easily the goriest film of the year and could be the goriest of the decade. Taking into account that the stomach churning, ultraviolent action was achieved almost entirely with practical effects you really get the sense that these are traditional horror filmmakers with a passion and respect for the pioneering work of Sam Raimi.

Once you get over the clunky first act, overripe with cliches and wooden performances aplenty, Evil Dead really starts to become a fun horror movie with buckets of blood to please any true genre fan. The action and well crafted set pieces perhaps indicate a style over substance approach but every time I started to get on board with the movie one of the idiotic characters would open their mouths and say something, well...idiotic! If you can switch off your brain and adjust your expectations from the posters hyperbolic claims of near perfection and being "the most terrifying film you will ever experience" then you'll enjoy yourself but for me this has to go down as a missed opportunity for something truly great.

*** 3 Stars

What do you think of the film? How does it compare to the original?


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