Saturday, 19 October 2013

Review - Evil Dead (2013 - Dir. Fede Alvarez)

Completing our mini-season within a season we return to the Evil Dead series with the recent remake. It could be said that the best Evil Dead remake has already been made in the form of Evil Dead II. But anyway, they went ahead and made it regardless. Was anyone expecting this to be good?

Like the I Spit on Your Grave remake it is very shiny and polished. The opening shots of a young woman running through a forest being chased by a lurking presence are gorgeous. They use a shallow depth of field and keep racking focus to the different elements within the scene. It's the complete opposite of the grainy, rough and ready approach of the original, although it's not unpleasant to watch. In fact, this raised my expectations from low to middling and made me think that this wouldn't be quite as bad as I was expecting.

You're probably thinking that something has got to go wrong soon. And you're right, to a point. It all boils down to the characters (yet again). Mia (Jane Levy) is a young lady who has had a problem. She started off snorting sherbet fountains 
at school and one thing led to another. After ODing (possibly not on sherbet fountains) she decides enough is enough and goes off for a weekend with her brother and buddies. She doesn't go to Centre Parcs though, she goes to a dodgy little shack in the middle of nowhere. Everything goes swimmingly, apart from when they find some dead cats hanging in the basement, until some clown finds the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead and decides to do a bit of light reading. 

Now you'd think that Mia would make a quite sympathetic character due to her drug abuse issues, and you'd be right. She's the only character who has any real character traits. The rest of the bunch are bland. Mia's brother, David, has one expression (disgruntled) throughout the whole film. Which is one more than his possible love interest, Natalie, who can't even be bothered to scream when she's in severe pain. Despite Mia not being the most complex of characters, she is enough to lead the viewer through the film. So it's a real shame - and I'm trying to write this without giving away any spoilers - when she's taken out of the equation for a while. A fairly long while. During that time all that's left are the personality bypass gang. When she returns things pick up and the ending hints at what the film could have been. 

One thing Evil Dead has got going for it is the gore. There's nothing in there as wince-inducing as the pencil incident in the original, although the knife licking comes close. One scene involving Mia in a small corridor is particularly effective. Some maniac is shoving a machete through the wall from the other side. She gets cut numerous times, culminating in a very nasty knee slice. A chainsaw scene towards the end also shows how much the censorship laws have changed since the original. And it's great.

One problem that it does have - and it's a problem that the completely dire Prometheus (click here for my review on Letterboxd) suffered from massively - is the substitution of one element from the original to another slightly different element. For example, let's imagine that I'm remaking Suspiria. Instead of a ballet school, I'm going to set it in a tap dancing school. In the original someone gets killed by falling into a pit of razor wire. Well, in my version she'll fall into a pit of open envelopes for some top paper cut action. The blind dog-owning piano player is going to be a limping squirrel-renting accordion player. You get the idea. It's lazy writing and has zero impact on the story.

All in all though it was fairly enjoyable. It's got enough positives to make it worth your while and the negatives aren't too irritating. It's one time where I think that a sequel could be worthwhile, as long as Jane Levy gets more screen time.

 If you like this you could also try:
The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, I Spit on Your Grave.


  1. Great review. I got to say, I really enjoyed this movie. I was nervous going in that it wouldn't honor Sam Raimi's masterpiece, but thankfully it played plenty of homage to the original. While part of me does miss the humor, I don't mind that much since I got plenty of action and gore.

    I finally got around to reviewing this movie on my own novice, review-blog. I could always use an experienced critic's opinion to help me fine-tune my reviews. Check it out if you get the time.

  2. Thanks for that. It certainly was better than I expected. And I'll have a look at your review for you :)