Its the Halloween Finale!!! We’ve made it to the end and what else to end it with but the final movie in the featured franchise(s), right? It is time for the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. I’m not sure if we can call it a remake but, I guess its rather a modernized version of it all. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! I went into this one with a tad bit of fear and rather anticipating it because after seeing Don’t Breathe (review HERE) this past summer at Fantasia Festival, I was having high hopes for Fede Alvarez doing this one and Jane Levy being in this as well. It sure sounds like a good start and I had a warning about it being disgusting at some parts. With all that in mind, its time to jump in!
Evil Dead (2013)
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore
Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.-IMDB
Some of you lovers of the original Evil Dead are probably going to judge me but I had a lot of fun and fear watching this version of Evil Dead. Maybe I’m just more modernized. It was good that they paid quite a bit of respect to the original by keeping a lot of the iconic scenes and moments. The roles are generally visible in this cast as compared to the original. There are some other different imagery and actually some of the roles seem to be supersized to help solve the mystery a little quicker. What I do like is that it was still a rather quick watch. My guess by memory (which I could be wrong) is that it was about a hundred minutes in length and that is the rare formula but one that works well for film. Much different from the original, this one felt like it built atmosphere better and it had a better backstory than just some friends going out to a secluded cabin for no reason. Kudos for the cabin looking basically exactly the same as the original. It is these key things that should remain intact especially when it doesn’t matter how modernized society gets compared to the wilderness. Back to the reason, they are there to help one of them go cold turkey and get rid of her drug addiction and makes a pact that no matter how much she wants to leave, they have to commit to keeping her there and staying. It also helps that the relationships of the characters are developed here and we can sense a tension between the brother who left a while back and the sister who is the reason they are all here and the backdrop of what they set and the dilemma of the situation as it grows and seeing what decisions they will make.
After a whole franchise of the three previous movies and reading through the comments of what made this series memorable, it is fairly obvious that this remake might not seem completely holding that same campiness that built its reputation. However, something about this Evil Dead gets part of it right. Most of it I brushed over up there. The main thing is the atmosphere. Fede Alvarez builds a rather good atmosphere. He never rushes the story. Everyone wants to see the remake have similarities to the original and in fact, guilty as charged, when the violence and death started, it was an automatic expression to see if what went down in the woods would happen in this one or whether a Bruce Campbell character would come up and have to take up the courage to cut off their evil hand, especially when we already know that the possessed girl in the basement still pops her head out as the door is chained shut which also is the only scene I knew about before even seeing the original or this one. Maybe they don’t hold the same vibe because this one still is rather serious but rightfully so because the atmosphere in this one is set up differently while keeping the brutal violence and gore paired up with a lot of creepy moments. (That could be because I’m an amateur at horror and I get scared really easily.)
The cast in this one is actually quite decent as well. I already told you where I saw Jane Levy. She doesn’t disappoint as Mia as she fights the pain of getting rid of the addiction but also brings in the question of making what she sees and experiences a reasonable doubt that her friends and brother has at what she tells them because it could well be a hallucination or a story she concocted to get out of the pain. Her character actually gets quite impressive and wow to the transformation. That really is all I can say. Aside from that, Jessica Lucas is the second familiar face here and that is because she’s been in Melrose Place and Cloverfield and I think, 90210. (Yeah, I watch a lot of teen shows.) I actually like her as an actress so she did alright for her role here. We can’t really get out of talking about characters without looking at the main guy who plays David, Mia’s brother and portrayed by Shiloh Fernandez. Looking at his filmography, the only other place I saw him was in The East (also a film that I love a lot, review HERE). David was a rather tough character and in the end, it is hard to say whether we do root for him. He kind of is the new Bruce Campbell but maybe not. The core of teens in the secluded cabin and horror always builds up these typical groups and to be honest, it wasn’t all the different here. In fact, the characters still make some rather stupid decisions.
The main discussion of remakes is really what makes it important. For those new to the franchise, this is a fresh start without having to know the past but having the fans appreciate the little bits of detail that give a nod/homage to the original. Evil Dead does well on this front. With fresh eyes, perhaps it is still worth it because it is different. For those who has seen the original, the main thing is whether those changes were really good. As I mentioned countless times, the atmosphere is the winner here whether its the gloomy and creepy woods or the house or even the transformations and how it all went down. The opening helped the story develop before just dropping friends into the scene. It also was good to take into consideration the book deciphering and making it something they could discover and piece together on their own. However, there is an unfair amount of time for these characters. We know who is the main characters here and it makes it effective for us to care about them but with five people in the house and everyone having to eventually be involved (and you know and expect it even before it happens), its hard to care for characters when they aren’t always apparent. The particular person I mean goes mostly to the very disposable character that plays David’s girlfriend who actually in this remake has a pretty brutal outcome and nods to a rather entertaining and important scene from the original trilogy and yet, while it was quite a bit of impact to see that scene happen, it didn’t make us care as much because the character essentially meant less. It is these little things that happen that perhaps may not shine as much for those who liked the original. I’m just guessing here because some of you who read the review of the original Evil Dead know that I wasn’t particularly raving about it. I much preferred Evil Dead 2 and especially Army of Darkness over it. Some of those scenes really just flashed in a thought like that and whether it was as effective as its original moment. I’m guessing the feeling is going to be different for everyone.
Overall, this version of Evil Dead is one I liked quite a bit. It gave me the creeps and it was rather gory at parts. It did a great job at building a ominous atmosphere and the characters and backstory here actually have a little more depth and gives the situation and the characters a little more meat. It doesn’t have the same tone as the original for the most part and focuses a lot on the suspense and gore but the pacing is better here. On top of that, it is respectful to the original by keeping the location and many scenes similar and to the fans, perhaps that might mean something (even if it is a backlash at how it might not be done right). For the most part, Evil Dead was done right and it was a gory, creepy and rather intriguing horror to watch especially how they changed it up or kept it the same. Some of those decisions are good or bad for the movie but in the end, I think it merited more wins than questionable fails. For that, Evil Dead is definitely a win in my book even if its not perfect.
Have you seen Evil Dead? Did you like it?
This marks the end of the Halloween marathon/month! Thanks so much for dropping by!
To see a full rundown of this month’s marathon reviews, you can find it under Movies on the above menu.