One thing is for certain: ‘Evil Dead’ — both the 1981 Sam Raimi-directed original and the Fede Alvarez-directed 2013 reboot — will definitely please those warped fright fanatics looking for that exuberant guilty pleasure gore to appease their bloodthirsty palates. With the raucous reputation for nightmarish nuances that were a proud and perverse staple that gleefully unsettled the stomachs of macabre-loving moviegoers in Raimi’s early eighties cult classic, it is a given that filmmaker Alvarez meet expectations to ensure the same kind of boisterous bloodbath suitable for hungry-minded horror enthusiasts in this current day and age of frenetic fight vehicles.
In the millennium there is no particular excuse to serve up a lackluster hedonistic horror show and not go for the overkill of sadistic slayings and slashing, especially when it is not that difficult to embellish on a three decade old low budget creeper that did not have the advanced movie-making technology to enhance the corruptible carnage. Thankfully, Alvarez does not disappoint and makes the best of the opportunity to uphold the sensationalistic regurgitation of ‘Evil Dead’s twisted tradition.
In Alvarez’s updated noxious narrative, the sick-minded spirit is joyously upheld as an ugly (yet freakishly festive) assault of bodily destruction is disturbingly celebrated. Blood-spewing bodies, electric carving tools, penetrating nails, virus-infected skin boils, sawed off limbs — the tortured deliciousness of ‘Evil Dead’ will have diehards falling for its gross-out gumption.
Although ‘Evil Dead’ does not quite elevate its shock value as heavy-handed as some of its corrosive contemporaries (ie ‘Hostel’ and the ‘Saw’ series), Alvarez ensures that the high energy of ghoulish outrageousness is fortifying enough for those that appreciate the old-fashioned horror genre and its heightened skin-crawling kitsch. Unlike Raimi’s nostalgic and brutish blueprint of mayhem, Alvarez does not serve a convincingly cheeky combination of chaos and comedy as evidenced previously. Nevertheless, ‘Evil Dead’ should fulfill the blocked heart with its installment of ludicrousness that befits the indigestible imagination of a jittery junkie looking for a feverish fix of body-ripping infliction.
As ‘Evil Dead’ fans are well aware of (not to mention the conventional set up of horror flicks in general as spoofed in movies such as ‘The Cabin In The Woods’) the premise, the standard situation is such that five young and attractive people are stranded in a remote cabin deep into the woods – foolishly waiting to become mincemeat for some lurking lunatic in the world of clichéd shock cinema. Anyhow, the band of sacrificial lambs includes a lovey-dovey couple in sheepish mechanic David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his pretty blonde girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). David’s ex-girlfriend, pushy registered nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas), is at the deteriorating cabin as well. Slacker schoolteacher Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) is on board as he harbors some emotional baggage. Lastly, heroin-inflicted Mia (Jane Levy) figures into the mix.
Mia, incidentally, is David’s depressed sister. She has her bag of issues with David (he left her with the responsibility of taking care of their woeful sickly mother) and the resentment is a heavy burden to carry when she is trying to quit her drug addiction. The group is actually there to come together and hold an intervention for Mia and see if she can kick her drug habit once and for all.
Mia’s bout with her drug-related struggles will prove to be an agonizing torment for her until she encounters new conflict in the woods — she is sexually attacked by a tree during some kind of supernatural episode. Understandably shaken, Mia reports this ominous incident to her associates. The disbelieving crew listened to her account of the tree-enhancing ‘rape’ in the woods after she had escaped their clutches. The plan is to keep the delusional Mia inside the cabin at all costs under a watchful eye.
As a horrific result of the tree-groping tactics in the woods, Mia had apparently been infested with a demonic-like virus circulating in her body. The evilness that is embedded in her will no doubt wreak havoc. Naturally the others are not immune to the morbid mysteries surrounding the creepy cabin. Soon, various showcasing of maiming and mutilation take place. Loose amounts of flesh drop to the floor. Displays of animated dismemberment are a common occurrence. Eerie sights of lifeless felines and a strange book pertaining to black magic rituals are discovered. Alas, the bewildered bunch joins Mia in the onslaught of unspeakable happenings befalling all of them.
The hectic usage of the cabin’s supplies and equipment are employed to combat the sinister forces that are at large for the petrified party. Shot guns, knives, shovels, gasoline, nail guns and hot water. All are incorporated in the constant battle to survive the monstrous madness that threatens their existences at every whim.
‘Evil Dead’ (this is the movie series’ fourth time being ushered onto the big screen) is preposterous yet devilishly intoxicating as an acceptable homage to its piercing predecessor. Stylish, self-deprecating, impishly disgusting and violently visual, ‘Evil Dead’ has its sheer moments of predictability and derivative rambling. Still, the visceral ruination of terrified guinea pigs out for slaughter by demon-possessive woody stalkers hits the right bloody spot for horror hipsters looking to enthusiastically shake in their boots.
Sure, the absence of Raimi’s cringe-worthy vision of yesteryear and ‘Evil Dead’ star Bruce Campbell’s off-kilter participation (both, by the way, are co-producers attached to this project) will automatically dampen the effectiveness of this rancid remake but hey…as far as horror retreads go, this movie shocker sizzles as it competently echoes the terrorizing triumph of its lurid legacy channeling wayward chills and spills.
Evil Dead (2013)
1 hr. 31 mins.
Starring: Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas, Shiloh Fernandez, Elizabeth Blackmore and Lou Taylor Pucci
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Mystery & Suspense
Critic’s rating: ** ½ stars (out of 4 stars).