Fede Alvarez’s rebooting of Sam Raimi’s famed Evil Dead series is a film that proves itself far better than it has much right to be – something which evaded me back when I first saw it for I had not seen any of the original Evil Dead films (a big mistake on my part). While I’m not one to say it’s better than the original trilogy (the first two films are amongst my all-time favourite horror films), there’s a great admiration to which I have for Fede Alvarez’s new vision as it still captures the spirit that defines what we loved about the original films and at the same time, places everything under a new light (the original films having a touch of black comedy, this one being hard horror all around). One can already tell from here alone, he’s growing to become something more.
If the very feeling of dread set up from the ending of the first Evil Dead film only is the start to what would come out in a more over-the-top and comedic manner in Evil Dead II, Fede Alvarez inside of a completely new take on the films, carries on from the terror that concluded the first film and keeps everything flowing with that very vibe running throughout. It’s interesting to at least see how Sam Raimi’s discovery for a new talent indeed brings out a film that starts out terrifying, and keeps the consistent tone running all throughout, a good rise above what appears typical of horror film remakes. Sam Raimi, who had a sense of humour that gave the original Evil Dead film a sense of charm, works as a producer to this remake, now with all the sense of comedy removed – creating an admirable sense of consistency.
There’s a sense of familiarity which Alvarez is working with in Evil Dead that tries to capture what vibes defined the original films, but it’s also interesting how he’s introducing newer things that make this reboot stand out from the series. There’s obviously a sense of ridiculousness that can arise from the premise which still remains intact with this take, but Fede Alvarez is also exploring much more than what one would expect – one defining factor being the consequences of teen angst. It doesn’t turn this reboot into something much better than any of the original films, especially with the knowledge it takes out all of the comedy that had been present through the whole series, but it certainly helps in making this entry stand out on its own for it only subtly pays nods to the original film (the notorious rape scene for example) without feeling an excessive need to cash in on one’s nostalgia. It pays off by the very end of the film, if one is patient enough to stay until the moment in which the credits concluded.
Just as one would always want from the series, the gore is exploited to the maximum. At points, it certainly does get far too ridiculous for the film’s more serious overtones, but it still looks impressive knowing that Fede Alvarez is working with practical effects. Whether it range from the severing of body parts (won’t lie, some of these I feel like the film could easily have done without) or even having a ridiculous amount of gore raining down, it always looks so stunning in a sense that it is attempting to capture the ridiculousness that defines the original Evil Dead films. The climax particularly is where it provides just as much glory as one would want when watching such a film, to which I appreciate very highly as there’s also a sense of real tension that ultimately makes up one truly rewarding experience.
However, Evil Dead certainly is not without its flaws, as in spite of the moments of genuine tension with great glory arising from what it means to capture out of the original films, it is still somewhat clunky especially when it is noticeable. The script is the weakest aspect, for it never really writes many of the new characters as nothing more than stereotypes (aside from Mia, who is the central character). If the generically written characters isn’t distracting enough, some of the performances are particularly rather dodgy – pointing towards Shiloh Fernandez and Jessica Lucas in particular. At the very least, Jane Levy works because she feels like a genuine character placed within a world of terrifying circumstances surrounding her, making Mia the best of the new characters for the reboot.
Given the modern standards of horror films or horror remakes, what Evil Dead provides is a nice rise above the usual. It provides what one would want for something bearing the Evil Dead name, it’s a gorefest but that still brings a sense of glory to all the ridiculousness which it carries. Fede Alvarez understands the roots that form the original and plays upon them so smoothly, and carries a sense of consistency running all throughout. As a reboot, it stands apart from the original films because it certainly feels very much like its own take on something that already has been done before, and as a result, provides an entertaining ride from the first chill down to the very last. There’s still plenty that I don’t like about this Evil Dead reboot, but there’s still enough for me to enjoy what it provides as it lasts.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Sony.
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Screenplay by Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues, from the 1981 film The Evil Dead by Sam Raimi
Produced by Bruce Campbell, Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi
Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore
Release Year: 2013
Running Time: 92 minutes