'Evil Dead' remake is bloody fun
Sam Raimi's “Evil Dead” trilogy rests on sacred — or in this
case, unholy — ground.
The endearingly low-budget 1981 horror flick and its two equally beloved sequels spawned one of the largest cult followings among devoted fans of horror and gore.
Needless to say, a remake of Raimi's original “The Evil Dead” could have prompted diehards to brandish a boomstick at the trespassing filmmaker, but, dear Deadites, fear not. Director Fede Alvarez (in his first feature-length film) has not only created a fresh spin on an all-too-familiar story, but he's crafted it as a written-in-blood love letter to the original.
In that sense, “Evil Dead” is more of a loving tribute than your average remake, chock full of cleverly incorporated winks, nods and references to the classics. It's almost a companion piece, and, as proof, it comes with the blessing — and producing credits — of Raimi and original “Evil Dead” star Bruce Campbell.
And to Alvarez's credit, it works splendidly on its own, catering to newcomers and series fans alike.
In this version, written by Alvarez, Diablo Cody (“Juno”) and newcomer Rodo Sayagues, five friends convene at an isolated cabin in the woods for an intervention.
Mia (Jane Levy, “Fun Size”) has sworn off drugs yet again, but this time, her friends and brother David (Shiloh Fernandez, “Red Riding Hood”) intend to see it through — withdrawal and all. As the symptoms kick in, the gang discovers something is amiss at the cabin. In the basement is a grisly scene from some years past, and at its center a mysterious book — bound in human flesh and written in blood.
When Mia's friend, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci, “Horsemen”), reads a passage, dark forces are awakened in the surrounding forest, and it soon becomes clear that Mia isn't herself. While they initially try to pass of her odd behavior as symptoms of withdrawal, the group learns the hard — and gruesome — way that something evil is afoot.
And that's where the fun begins. Alvarez doesn't attempt to duplicate the scares of the original, but rather pays them homage through gore-tastic exploits of his own — some of them direct references coupled with newly twisted concoctions.
Calling this type of horror “in-your-face” is a gross understatement, as Alvarez and company spare no expense — or artificial blood — in delivering their ghastly scares. Those scares come more handily to series newcomers, although there's still enough difference between old and new to keep even the most dead-icated fans squirming in their seats.
Gone is the underlying humor from Raimi's original, replaced with a sheer intensity and ever-lingering sense of dread. But that's not to say the film is humorless, as “Evil Dead” wisely refuses to take itself too seriously.
Its exceptionally dark humor comes from the gleefully over-the-top violence (obviously not for the squeamish), followed by one of the most rewarding post-closing-credit scenes in recent history, one that'll have fans of the original cheering for more.
And that's how Alvarez succeeds. In stylishly updating Raimi's classic for a modern audience, he never once neglects the fans who made it all possible.
In that respect, it's a celebration of horror cinema old and new, proving that with the right direction and a studio that doesn't shy away from a hard R rating, fans can have their soul and eat it, too.
“Evil Dead,” rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.