Evil Dead (2013)

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Overall Rating 62%
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Connections: The Evil Dead

Five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: July 16, 2013
I've always been a huge fan of the Evil Dead series, so to say that I was a little skeptical of the long-rumored remake being any good would be an understatement. I mean, that's the unspoken rule of remakes, right? As if a movie simply being bad isn't enough, it always saddens me a little when I see a horrible remake of a movie that I particularly loved (see Friday the 13th as but one of many examples). So, I wasn't expecting much when I heard that the remake was finally being filmed, and even when I saw the rather slick trailer, I still remained skeptical. Yeah, it was a nice trailer, I'll give it that... but a trailer can make any movie look amazing, and I still wasn't sold on the idea at all. Well, I finally sat down with the movie tonight, and... well, synopsis first.

The storyline follows the same general idea as the original film, so unless you're completely new to the series, you already know the basics. A lot of things have been changed though, so don't think that it's one of those remakes that is content to be a scene-by-scene rehash. This one centers around Mia (Jane Levy), a young lady with a drug addiction who is determined to quit cold turkey, and aiding her are her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), as well as her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez). The idea is for the five of them to head out to this remote cabin in the woods, settle down for the weekend, and let Mia detox the old-fashioned way. No access to drugs means that she will definitely break the habit, and with no way to get back to the city, there's no chance of her slipping, right? It's an incredibly simple plan that couldn't go wrong in any way.

Well, about that. You see, Mia does start going through withdrawal after a few hours, and as Olivia (a registered nurse) explains, one of the side effects of this is heightened senses. That would explain why Mia is complaining about some foul odor that nobody else can smell, and upon further investigation, our heroes discover that the rug they're standing on is covering a trail of blood leading into a closed cellar door. They obviously decide to investigate, and that's where they find the Necronomicon - the book of the dead. In it are passages that will allow demons to cross over to this world, along with numerous warnings that adamantly instruct the reader to stop now, don't continue reading, and certainly don't speak the words out loud. So, the words are read out loud and an abomination is let loose into our world. Whoops.

Mia is the first to notice this abomination (which takes the form of a bloody woman), and she notices it while running through the woods. She soon finds herself tangled up in a thorny mess, and that is when the evil spirits decide to infest Mia's body, turning her into one of the possessed (some might call it a deadite). Mia returns to the cabin and quickly gets to wreaking havoc, and this time around, the possession is spread almost like a virus - contact with Mia leads to that person getting possessed as well. Who will survive the night? Can this evil spirit be defeated? Where's Ash when you need him?

So, let me go ahead and get this out of the way now: I was wrong to be skeptical. This remake / reboot / sequel / whatever you want to call it is actually really good, and it left me incredibly excited for another entry in the series. This was director Fede Alvarez's debut directorial effort (aside from a few short films), but make no mistake about it: he definitely captured the spirit of the original film, and he made a damned fine horror film to boot. This was, in my humble opinion, the way a remake should be done: there's plenty of material lifted from the original movie, but there's also a lot of new stuff to keep it interesting for the fans. It's a perfect blend of old and new, and I had a huge grin on my face throughout the entire thing.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed was the fact that it emulated the original movie more than the sequels. Most people think of the series as horror-comedy hybrids, full of cheesy one-liners and a wisecracking hero, but a lot of them forget that the original movie was a pure horror flick without any of that humor (and Ash wasn't even a great character). There's nothing wrong with the humor found in those sequels, don't get me wrong, but I much prefer a "legit" horror movie given the choice, and that's what we got here. Sure, there are a few one-liners, and yes, there are a few gags... but it's never enough to call it a horror comedy or slapstick or anything like that. This film tried to take the series back to its roots, and in my opinion, it succeeded. I love Ash and his machismo just as much as the next horror geek, but a fresh take on the story was very refreshing.

The film does a great job of building atmosphere, and that feeling of dread sticks around from the moment that the words are read out of that book. It's a great horror movie in the purest sense of the word, and as an added bonus, it's also loaded with great gore effects and grisly mutilations. It's almost all done with practical effects as well, so purists can rest easy: there's not much in the way of computer animations here, and the results are beautiful. Some of the grislier moments of the film are genuinely cringe-worthy, with one scene involving a tongue meeting a razor and another featuring a needle to the face being highly memorable. Of course, that all comes with gallons of the red stuff - actually, make that hundreds of gallons of it. Yeah, there's a lot of fake blood being tossed about, and gorehounds will love it.

Hell, I can't even say anything negative about the cast. I'm not going to say that they were all phenomenal actors, because they weren't, but for a horror film? Everybody brought what was required to their roles, and there wasn't any one person that you could point to as being downright bad. I think that Jane Levy was a great pick for the lead female role, as she handled all aspects of the character wonderfully: junkie going through withdrawal, badass heroine, demon-infested she-bitch, and everything in between. The rest of the cast is fairly disposable without much of note, but again, I can't say that any of them were horrible in their roles either.

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised with this retelling of the story, and I think that most fans of the series will feel the same. It's not going to replace the original and I highly doubt that it will reach that cult status, but it's an extremely entertaining rehash of that story and it's also great as a standalone horror movie. I wouldn't call it a better overall movie, but I will say that it fits in nicely with the other entries in the series. 9/10.
Crispy #1: Crispy - added July 16, 2013 at 10:21pm
I was absolutely loving it...until the final 20 minutes. Decisions made in those last twenty minutes damned near ruined the whole movie for me. It still earned itself a spot on my DVD shelf I think, but it's a shame to see how fast it fell from "amazing" to "good."
Ginose #2: Ginose - added July 16, 2013 at 10:52pm
Some of the best re-worked material I've seen in a horror film, and easily the only thing Diablo Cody has written that didn't make me break-out in snarky-bitch hives, but the direction was fun and interesting, as was the gore. This is a hard 8 from me, or at least a high-7.
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added July 19, 2013 at 2:50pm
Loved everything about it, but maybe wish for a little more back story maybe. 9.5/10
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