Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shoiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Written by Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, Rodo Sayagues
Running Time: 91 mins
Release date: 19th April 2013
Most modern horror films leave me cold. They rely to much on the same old quiet, quiet, quiet, LOUD school of making the audience jump. They are far from being horrific. What is even more annoying is this current crop of remakes of classic horrors, trying to revamp them for a 21st century audience. All of them have fallen flat on their faces: A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, Halloween and more recently, this year’s tired and boring The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So a remake of the now classic and notorious 1981 low budget The Evil Dead didn’t exactly make me go jumping up and down with excitement. After seeing it, maybe I should, for this is what horror films should be…and I’m still shaking from the experience hours after seeing it.
Mia is a junkie desperate to kick the habit and so, along with her brother, David and three other friends, they head for a woodland retreat that belonged to Mia and David’s parents. As Mia struggles to cope with going cold turkey, a secret basement is discovered, filled with dead, rotting animals and a strange book, covered in plastic and held shut by barbed wire. David’s curious friend, Eric, cannot resist wanting to know what’s in the book and so removes the wire to find warning about not reading or writing anything down. Eric does the complete opposite and so releases hell.
Sam Raimi’s original was ground-breaking in many way: the shoe-string budget, the style of the piece, the shocks and, of course, Bruce Campbell! It was also wrongly caught up in the hysteria that was the “video nasties” of the 80s and was banned in Britain for many years. Like another creepy horror of the 70s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the grainy, somewhat grubby film stock helped to create atmosphere and these are things that most horror directors tend to forget. Atmosphere is almost everything. New director Fede Alvarez hasn’t gone for the grainy look and he has a far most expansive budget but he hasn’t forgotten that golden rule about atmosphere. From the opening shot, it just reeks of terror.
A short, pre-credit sequence and we are into the bulk of the story as we slowly are introduced to the main players, the five friends staying at the cabin. Alvarez has added a neat little character ploy. By having a brother and sister involved, it becomes a lot more morally questionable when having that uneasy decision of whether to kill or not. A girlfriend or a boyfriend possessed by an evil force, might be tricky but if you are having to make it, then you could always pick up another one along the way…but a sibling, that’s tough. It adds to the tension and boy, this is full of tension.
For a good horror film to work, it’s like being on a very long roller coaster ride. Your heart should be pumping, you feel an adrenaline rush and when you think it’s over, you can relax but then it starts all over again. That is exactly how I felt watching this. After a pretty smooth first thirty minutes, you are then launched into grand horror central and it is relentless. Just when you think it can’t get any more gruesome, it lifts the bar up again…and again…and again. A few years back we had torture porn, where people were senselessly brutalised for the sake of entertainment. This could have easily been in the same league if it hadn’t been for the fact that we are knowlingly reminded this is just nonsense. Alvarez does this by having a not to other horror classics like The Exorcist and Carrie, as well as some towards the great original, including keeping the famous steadycam shots through the woods.
Visually it is well executed too. This has been well thought out for maximum horrifying effect. It also has a few very neat little twists at the end that, if you have invested your time into this and been caught up in the terrifying events before (trust me, there will be those who will walk out) then it satisfies.
I have been very disappointed with modern horror films of late and the endless “found footage”, Paranormal Activity style horrors just don’t do it for me. These are just expensive ways of going ‘Boo!” Evil Dead is brutal, disgusting, graphic, shocking, disturbing and a hugely visceral experience. I also tend to think it might be the best horror film I have seen in a very long while. It’s not as good as the original and I still hold it close to my heart but compared to what’s been released recently, this is a glorified horror in the full sense of the word and if you have a strong stomach and nerves of steel, then I urge you to see it.