Movie Reviews 131 – Evil Dead (2013)

Evil DeadThe cinematic landscape is littered with failed and inferior remakes and re-imaginings of seminal movies, whether they were instant hits or nurtured to become cult classics over time. But every now and then a remake actually breaks new ground while trampling on well trodden paths. This year’s Evil Dead remake of the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell classic doesn’t stray too far from the original premise, but manages that fine line of changing just a bit, keeping in a just the right amount, and creating and entertaining piece while still maintaining a sense of being ‘home’ for fans of the original.

Directed by Fede Alvarez and having a relatively fresh cast, the story of the five young adults holing up at a remote lodge is right out of the original. But unlike the original (and the multitude of movies that followed it) the kids are not there to simply “Partay!” and have a good time. The first stroke of brilliance in this script is making this trip a serious drug intervention for a young girl hosted by her friends and bringing along her somewhat distant brother. When one of the group finds the Book of the Dead in the shuttered basement and begins reading out loud the incantations, he unwittingly unleashes the evil spirits. The girl under the microscope is the first to  gets possessed, but that’s what makes the plot so unnerving. What better way to having the rest of the gang ignore the raving girl than the premise that she is simply exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. Pure genius.

Before long others in the group are at it, either mutilating themselves or others in some of the most gruesome gore scenes coming out of Hollywood in a long time. Aside from the great script, the cast is magnificent, each delivering unique and credible characters. Jane Levy is Mia, the target of the intervention who intends to kick her heroin habit cold turkey at the cabin. Shiloh Fernandez is her brother David who has just learned that Mia nearly died from an overdose a while back. Further complicating their relationship is David’s guilt at not being able to be beside their mother as she Mia comforted her during her death throes.  Lou Taylor Puci plays the glassy eyed 70’s throwback Eric who finds the Book of the Dead and ultimately unleashes it’s spirits. Jessica Lucas is Olivia, the friend with a nursing background although as you can imagine her nursing skills are laughable when it comes to the trauma the group is about to endure. Finally we have Natalie who is David’s tag-along girlfriend, but her character is little more fodder really.

There are also plenty of nods and hints to the original but without them being force fed, so both newcomers to the series and old fans can enjoy it alike. Anyone having doubts that it could ever live up revered classic lineage should note that there was a reputed 50,000 gallons of blood used to make the film, most if it used in the grand finale. I hate the fact that we don’t have Bruce himself brandishing a chainsaw here but he is listed as one of the producers so I’m sure with the success of this movie he’s got a smile above that chin regardless.

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