Movie Review: Evil Dead – If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise!

Evil Dead Poster

Genre: Horror

Director: Fede Alvarez

Running Time: 91 Minutes

“We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

― Douglas Preston, The Monster of Florence

The Plot

This was not too different to the 1981 original of this film. Five friends venture into the woods for a weekend getaway and stay in an old cabin. Once there, one of the group’s members finds an old, musty, strangely bound book. He reads from it and unwittingly calls forth long dormant demons which start to possess, influence and otherwise interfere with the occupants of the cabin. The friends start dying off one by one, until there is only one. Not unlike Highlander.

Evil Dead Companions

Performances & Special Effects

It’s a horror movie, I expected gore but what I got was a bloodfest. The characters died in interesting, innovative ways. Which is impressive when you consider that audiences are becoming harder and harder to please or shock, as we’re fast reaching a place where we, as the audience, have seen it all. The special effects were masterfully executed but what really brought this one home was the acting. I was right with her when Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) had to cut off her infected arm with an electric carving knife. I found myself rooting for her while she was cutting and chanting “good girl, good girl” when she didn’t scream but bit down and got the job done!

Giving “sawn-off” a whole new meaning

I found myself unable to look away, not matter how much my brain was telling me to, when I watched Olivia (Jessica Lucas) carve her own face with a shard of a broken mirror. Not only were the special effects top notch, the performances enhances the gruesome, insidious nature of each scene. This was particularly apparent in scenes without the gore, like when Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) slowly starts to psychologically spiral out of control after he reads the book.

Do you wanna know how I got these scars?

The Review

I did not have particularly high hopes for this movie, but that was just the cynic in me and my growing disappointment when it comes to remakes and rehashes. Now, let me say straight of the bat here that unlike many people I know, I am not a puritan when it comes to movie remakes. I enjoyed Rob Zombie’s Halloween, though many hardcore fans did not. I absolutely loved the 2013 Carrie remake. So, for a remake to disappointment me, it is usually because you can see the blatant dollar signs flipping you off in the credits. I hold the horror genre close to my heart and am particularly saddened when a remake is a disappointment. Having said that, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and gloriously rewarded with delicious gore and decent story-telling from Evil Dead.

Nothing about this film is original. I’m not saying that in a bad way. If you consider that the original film was made in 1981, at the start of the teen slasher era, this is pretty much the plot, or a derivative thereof, for 70% (not citation needed, I’m thumb-sucking) of the teen slasher films made from the ’70s through to now. A group of teens to twenty-somethings got to a secluded place (woods, mountain cabin, etc.) and things go pear-shaped very quickly. They are either killed by something supernatural (demons, ghosts, werewolves, blah) or by a person (usually a serial killer). This is not new. Especially when you throw in the formulaic “final girl” ending. One girl, usually at the heart of the problem by being the ultimate target of the killer/occurrence – Texas Chain Saw, Scream and Halloween. She is also, usually, the one who figures out who the killer is and is the only one to survive. This plot, model and character design has been around for decades. So what make this one different? Presentation. The story telling was fluid and unencumbered by unnecessary, bulky scenes trying to force you to like the characters or filled with back story.

Heeeeere’s Mia!

The movie just got going. It was gritty and filthy, pulled no punches but at the same time toned down a few things from the original. I thought that would detract from the overall feel, but it didn’t. I feel the director and creative team made some smart choices, including toning down the tree-rape scene form the 1981 Evil Dead. My personal favourite twist in Evil Dead is that the Final Girl IS the problem and she essentially needs to fight herself to gain her freedom, and her life. It’s a great spin on a tired character trope. This movie is definitely a fun watch with friends, or just a partner. Fire up the popcorn maker, grab a pillow to hide behind when it gets too gory and keep your feet under the blanket, lest they be chopped off by the demon hiding under the couch.

My Rating: 4/5

Buy Evil Dead on Amazon

You might like:

Carrie

Silent Hill

The Hills Have Eyes

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