When it was first announced that there was to be a remake of Sam Raimi’s horror classic, The Evil Dead, there was the usual reaction of “How dare they!”
Then details trickled through the Internet. Fede Alvarez was directing, Suburgatory’s Jane Levy was starring while Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell were producing. The latter news of who was producing did make many of us feel a little better about the remake. If the original three were involved then at least it should be close to what we wanted.
We just had to wait and see what would come out of those woods.
I was lucky enough to see the film a few weeks ago and I can safely say it has been well worth the wait.
Evil Dead is a triumph. Old school horror and gore, updated with better, practical effects, a brilliant sound mix and excellent camera work….plus a whole lot of blood.
Possible spoilers ahead, although I will try and keep them to a minimum.
The film opens with a fantastic scene that sets the tone and feel of the whole movie. It delivers horror, compassion, confusion and more in the space of a couple of minutes.
Then we join Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore as they meet up at an old, familiar looking cabin in the woods. They are all there to help Mia (Levy) in an intervention for her heroin addiction. In doing so this helps explain away certain things – none of them have a mobile phone as they don’t want her to have a way to leave the cabin (previous interventions have failed), plus if Mia says she is seeing strange things they would put it down to her going cold turkey. Just some nice touches which stop you asking those standard questions of why would they do this or that.
I did say it was a familiar looking cabin and that is one of the reasons why I feel this is more of a sequel to the original film rather than a remake.
The cabin interior is almost the same – stags head on the wall, trapdoor in front of the fire place – and there is a very recognizable car slowly rusting away outside the cabin. Plus when they first enter they find that other people have been there before them and something bad happened.
All of this is within the first few minutes of the film.
As they explore the cabin they come across strange things including an old book wrapped up in barbed wire.
Of course they open it. If they didn’t then there would be no story.
It then proceeds as you would expect, but it is all done so well that you do not care. Going into an Evil Dead film you know there will be a cabin in the woods, demonic possession and death so that is what you get.
There are plenty of nods to the original. There is a tree rape and it is still shocking and nasty, limbs get possessed and cut off, people get possessed, chainsaws are spotted and many things make you jump.
I will not go into any more story details.
The film looks great. The special effects are almost all practical ones, done on set, and this makes the world of difference. None of that rubbish CG blood which just looks daft. The makeup is brilliant making those possessed appear otherworldly and nasty. When carnage ensues the damage looks real and does make you wince in places. Add this with one of the best sound mixes I have heard in a film for a long time and you get something very creepy. The scene in the bathroom has a very sickening sound which is all you have for a minute, yet feels a lot longer, letting your imagination run wild with what you will see next.
The excellent sound is there from the start with the sound of flies buzzing around and deep bass tones making you feel uneasy and wary from the get go.
Fede Alvarez has done a great job making the film look faithful to the original yet still have its own look. We get the classic camera running through woods shot which is one of my abiding memories from the original and some cracking camera angles which amp up the tension throughout.
There are jump scares, but every film of this type needs a few of them.
The cast are, on the whole, splendid. Levy has the main role, but they all have their chance to shine. Lou Taylor Pucci in particular is great and you feel his pain as it gets worse and worse for him. He also often says what we all wish was said in these horror movie situations.
The film is gory, there is no getting away from it, yet it did not fill me with that despair and sickening feeling I often get with modern films of this type. Maybe it was because it was based on demonic possession, I don’t know, but my main feeling about the film was that it was a lot of fun.
Despite the terrible things that happen to them, the film was fun, which is something that has always been a part of the Evil Dead films.
Seeing it in a crowded cinema just added to it. We all winced when sharp things were on screen, we laughed at the funny bits (and there are funny moments) and gasped as, just when we thought there could be no more blood on screen, we were proven very, very wrong.
All in all seeing the Evil Dead was one of my more enjoyable cinema viewings in recent years. To be honest, going into it, I was not looking forward to it. As I have gotten older my ability to watch gory movies seems to have decreased. The fact this is one of the goriest in a while and I enjoyed every minute of it shows just what a cracking job they have done.
I hope it does well at the box office as I would like to see where they would go with a sequel.
Oh, and one last thing, make sure you sit through all the credits as there is a final scene which is just superb and took it all to the next level.
Evil Dead is out in the US on 5th April and in the UK on the 19th April.
You can have the chance to win an Evil Dead Screening Tour T-Shirt in out latest competition. Details here.