Evil Dead Review

Posted: January 14, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Evil-Dead-PosterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series may not be the most well-known series, but the films have amassed a huge cult following. There are fans who passionately love the series and I’ve even seen them listed in Best Horror lists and Evil Dead II in Best Sequel lists. With that in mind, I was a bit surprised when the 2013 remake simply titled Evil Dead seemed to be more or less embraced by the horror community. It had its detractors and the film didn’t receive the passionate love the original series did, but on the whole Evil Dead seemed a far more dignified remake than expected and a pretty strong horror film. I felt I could use a good horror movie, and this seemed the best candidate.

The film follows the same basic premise as the original film. A group of teenagers go up to an abandoned cabin where they discover a mysterious book. Ignoring the books warnings, the content is read a lot and the group is plagued by supernatural forces with powers of possession and intent to kill. There are some changes here though. Unlike the other films, where the characters I going up to the cabin to supposedly party, this particular group is seeking an isolated place so they can help a friend go cold turkey and kick her drug habit. The film also wisely never tries to recreate Bruce Campbell’s Ash character from the original series.

I mentioned earlier that the film had its detractors and it seems a lot of that stemmed from loyalty to Raimi’s series. Personally I don’t have that chip on my shoulder because I don’t have much affinity for the previous Evil Dead films. I don’t dislike them, I found them charming and admirable, but they never impressed me great films, or even really good ones. In short, this is a series that I thought had room for improvement, and Evil Dead does improve on its predecessors in a number of ways. First of all, on a technical level this is better than the series prior entries. The cinematography is pretty good and gives the film a chilling atmosphere, and the make-up and gore effects are really awesome. It may not be as impressive as what Raimi was able to create with pretty much nothing back in the 1970s, but it’s also more aesthetically pleasing.

What really makes Evil Dead work is its return to roots. The original series, particularly the sequels, really played up the comedy. The remake however really dives into the horror aspects. First-time director Fede Alvarez hits a perfect tone where he plays the film straight but never so seriously it loses its sense of fun. Additionally, Alvarez crafts some really strong set-pieces and the film effectively ratchets the tension as it goes. Alvarez also has placed an emphasis on practical effects and I’m glad he did because the result is some really over-the-top gore brought to life with very impressive make-up effects. This isn’t for the squeamish, but horror fans will enjoy both how far the film pushes its violence and also how well executed it is.

The characters are where the movie starts to lose some life. For the most part, these are the standard victims which always populate these types of films. There is an effort to give some of them a degree of personality. The fact that the central brother and sister are divided by the sister’s drug problem is interesting and I also admired all the shit the Eric character had to go through. Still, these details don’t add up to all that much in the long run and the rest of the characters have even less personality and are just there to serve their specific function.

Evil Dead isn’t a triumph nor is it an overly significant work. However overall, the film succeeds at what it wants to be. It builds on the foundation of the original films while taking the material in a new direction tonally. More importantly, the execution is pretty skilful and the film gives its audience what it wants to see. In other words, this is a film that knows what it wants to be and how to best achieve it. It has its problems, but anybody looking for a fun horror film with some cool moments will get their money’s worth.

B

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. It’s as bloody and gory as it should be, but not much else other than that. Basically, they should have just kept the original the way it was.

  2. Hey, great review! I also surprisingly enjoyed the remake although I’m a big fan of the classic Evil Dead movies.

    Dorian

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