April 7, 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Let me begin his by saying I am little tired of seeing posts in various places that start with "I don't normally like remakes but..." or "I hate all remakes." Guess what? I don't care. Seriously. I have nothing against remakes, if they are bad movies, they are bad movies. Why not be open to the possibility of other creative types ability to be inspired by and bring something new to the table, a different interpretation, or different angle on the material? There is just too much abject negativity when it comes to new takes on beloved films.

Still, despite my general rule of letting a remake/reimagining/whatever prove itself to be bad, that doesn't mean my anticipation of any of them cannot be infected with moments of apprehension or worry. Now, with all that said, I have been surprised in he past with beloved classics getting the new makeover treatment like Dawn of the Dead and Halloween. I would or go so far as to say they are better than the originals, but that does not automatically make these new visions bad.

That brings us to The Evil Dead, a classic low budget splatter horror from the p and coming team of director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and producer Rob Tapert. I do not know when I first saw the film, and I suspect I saw the second one first, but there is something about it that has stayed with me, something about the down and dirty way it was made, the experimental nature of it, something about how the movie plays out and is just so entertaining that the idea of trying to recreate it would seem sacrilegious. Still, it is not like it is a perfect movie and the material seems perfectly suited to letting other people play in the sandbox.

Now here we are, more than thirty years after that movie came out and twenty years since we last visited the universe and we are faced with a new take on the material. The word remake has been tossed around a lot, this is no remake. Evil Dead would be best viewed as a sequel, another movie in the same universe. The characters are all different, their reasons for going to the cabin are different, and it has a more straight horror atmosphere than the original.

Director Fede Alvarez and writer Rodo Sayagues (with, I believe, some rewrites from Diablo Cody) have succeeded in crafting a rather grueling film that is grim, dark, bloody, and not without touches of humor. Just be assured of what you are in for, this films stock in trade is blood, dark humor, and demonic violence. If you are expecting intelligence, I suggest waiting for whenever they decide to remake The Exorcist (not I am advocating that, I probably would not be as intelligent anyway). This is down and dirty survival horror at its finest, adding to the known mythos, nodding to the original films, and being flat out entertaining in the process.

I know I haven't really given you much about the events of the film. That is sort of on purpose. This movie is am experience and it should be taken as such. I mean, I feel fairly certain that you can figure out the direction it is going to go in. This is a movie that relies solely on execution and not on the flow of the plot. Don't get me wrong, there's are interesting story elements that make it stand out and the characters are actually interesting, but what it all comes down to is of you buy into it or not and if the deadite action delivers the goods.

Evil Dead delivers. I was hooked in right from the start. The movie takes a little time to ramp things up, but when they do, they really do. The possessions kick in and they do all they can to promise they will all be dead by dawn. There is some great effects work done, and although they say there is no CG, I think I saw a little here and there, not that not big of a deal. The film looks great, besides the effects work the cinematography is a cut above the rest, and the score helps complete the eerie mood.

The performances are also quite good, although I will not likely see Jane Levy the same way watching Suburgatory again. She gives a captivating performance as Mia in her heroine/deadite/heroine arc. Shiloh Fernandez (Deadgirl) also gives a solid performance as David, Mia's brother. These two have a past that directly ties them to the reason for being at the cabin and a history that affects how they deal with the events as they unfold. I also rather liked Eric, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, he may be more of a supporting player, but he plays an important role, and there are some great moments where he does something he shouldn't or calls out another character on things.

What it really comes down to is a movie that gets it right. It has an understanding of the history it is stepping into, knows that it needs to change things up, and most importantly knows it must be genuine in its efforts. There is nothing Hollywood about this. It may have more money and whatnot behind it than the original, but it doesn't feel churned out of the machine. It feels rather accomplished for a first time director. Fede Alvarez demonstrates a sure hand, guiding us through this journey through the pages of Evil Dead.

Yes, I know that sounds pretty corny, but he really did a fine job directing this movie. It drags the old school into the present while keeping some of that old school grime stuck to it. See it, enjoy it.

Highly Recommended.

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