SXSW 2013: “Evil Dead” – Review by MovieManMenzel

welivefilm evil dead remake review

Fede Alvarez brings “the dead” up to date for a new generation.

One of the most anticipated films to premiere at SXSW 2013 was not a quiet small indie gem, but rather the re-make of the classic Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell film The Evil Dead. The original took audiences by storm in the 80s and created a cult fan base. Now, nearly 32 years later, Raimi and Campbell sit in as producers and help director Fede Alvarez create a new wave of evil for the next generation of horror fans.

Evil Dead follows a group of friends who go into the woods to get away from the world for a while. Mia (Jane Levy) is depressed and has been having emotional issues so her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and a few of their friends decide to take her to this cabin as a way to clear her head and get away from it all. One day, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) stumbles upon this mysterious book in the basement and decides to open it.  It isn’t long before Mia starts feeling weird and tries to escape the cabin but unfortunately for Mia evil wants her and won’t let her escape no matter what.

I, first and foremost, want to point out that I am not a huge horror junkie. I enjoy a good horror film here and there, but I am typically someone who enjoys smart horror or thrillers over the blood and gore type flicks. The original Evil Dead set the stage for a lot of these types of films and it is considered one of the best films of its kind. This remake follows in its footsteps with the same general premise but tweaks it here and there to bring it up to date and give the story more substance for this new generation of horror fans.

*Spoilers*

This Evil Dead remake features most of the beloved moments that fans of the original loved. The tree rape scene is in this film, but unlike the original it’s a lot less funny and much more intense. They even take the scene one step further by having the tree go into her in this one. The famous chainsaw scene is here as well and the hand scene.

As for the changes, the opening is completely different. The film doesn’t focus on a group of friends going into the woods to party but rather because Mia is dealing with the death of her mother who died in a mental institute. Mia is depressed and addicted to drugs so there’s more of a storyline for the woods and therefore this is why her brother David and their friends decide it is best to get her away from everything so they take her to the cabin.

As far as the ending goes, in the original, the boyfriend Ash (Bruce Campbell) lives, but in this one the brother David dies, who replaced the Ash character from the original. The only one who survives is Mia, which compared to the original is Linda who dies. These are the most notable differences with the films.

*End Spoilers*

What I really enjoyed about the Evil Dead remake was the fact that they kept to the original story but changed certain elements to make it work for this generation and not seem as cheesy. The most impressive thing about the remake is the fact that the film uses practical effects rather than CGI and these effects look absolutely amazing. The scenes that look terrifying work simply due to the brilliance of those who created the effects by hand rather than with some computer. When Mia becomes possessed by evil, you honestly forget that you are watching a real person. She gets lost in the makeup entirely.

The film moves along quite nicely and grabs the audiences attention right from the get go. The film gives you a brief background as to what you are about to witness and while it may seem out of place for fans of the original, I feel that it was a good addition that added something to this film as a whole. The entire movie flows together nicely building a lot of suspense, but also delivering a lot of laughs along the way.

If you were worried or concerned with whether or not this film would be as bloody or as gory as the original, well I assure you that you don’t have anything to worry about. Rumor has it, that this film uses more blood than any other mainstream horror film. At the Q&A, Alvarez mentions that they used 50,000 of fake blood so be warned there is a ton of bloodshed and a ton of gore. There were several moments within the film where I was watching the film and said to myself “there is no way they are going to show this” but leave it up to Alvarez as he showed everything he could.  So Dead fans, if you were afraid that you were going to get short changed with blood and gore, well I am hear to tell you that will definitely not be disappointed.

Now that I got the main points out of the way, I do have to tackle some of the negatives about the film. Evil Dead feels like a typical horror film in regards to the type of characters portrayed within the film, as well as their development. Besides Jane Levy as Mia, I really had a hard time caring about any of the secondary characters. The only other character that you get any background on is David, but you don’t like him once you learn the history of him. The rest of the characters, which there are 3, don’t have anything about them in which makes you care about them as individuals. Its very generic in that regard and based on the horror genre its part of the point since horror fans want to see those types of characters die and man, do they have ever. There are some gruesome deaths in this one.

My other complaints about the film are again just about horror movies in general. I just can’t understand how these characters can be as dumb as they are. They realize something is creepy about the cabin yet they stay there. I know, I know I am not supposed to think about it but it’s hard not too.  I also hated the large amount of cheap jump scares within the film that made it extremely predictable at times. There are so many sound effect scares as well as a mirror scare. I just found that there were too many of these types of scares within the film, but again the audience seemed to eat it up like it was a big piece of chocolate cake.

Having seen so many horror films, I really liked how the film played as homage to several classic films such as The Exorcist and Frankenstein. I am not sure if that was the decision of Alvarez or of the producers but there were several scenes that felt inspired by those classic horror films. I also must point out that I thought the direction of the film was also rather good especially for a film newbie like Alvarez. The direction stood on its own two feet but also really captured the essence of the original without totally feeling like it was copying it.

All in All, Evil Dead (2013) might not be as iconic as the original film, but I do truly believe that those who are hardcore fanatics of the original will enjoy it. I have spoken to a lot of people about the film and the overall consensus is that it is a solid remake that is made for both fans as well as a new generation. While the film suffers from bad character development and the normal horror clichés, the overall film is a fun time and the last 20 minutes is as bad-ass as they come. If you enjoy horror films that have a lot of bloodshed and gore, well the Evil Dead remake is definitely one film that you need to add to your must see list. Oh, and make sure you fanboys and fangirls stay after the credits as there is a scene that will probably make you cream in your pants.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Evil Dead is a 6 out of 10.

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