Written by Adam Carson.
Back in 1981 Sam Raimi introduced the world to The Evil Dead, a low-budget horror film which quickly became a cult classic. Over 30 years later there is now a new addition to the franchise in the form of Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead.
Evil Dead follows a group of friends that travel to the typical cabin in the woods to support Mia (Jane Levy) in her quest to kick her heroin addiction. As a break from traditional horror movie scenarios, the cabin has sentimental value to both Mia and her brother David (played by Shiloh Fernandez of Red Riding Hood fame) who visited the cabin when they were younger. As a viewer you sense that the cabin is a place of sanctuary. Joining Mia and David is the token African-American Olivia (Jessica Lucas), the dumb blonde Natalie and outcast nerd Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci). If you rearrange all those names into acrostic they spell, wait for it, D.E.M.O.N, and that should give you a taste of what is in store.
After finding a secret cellar full of dead cats underneath the cabin our characters find a book covered in a black bag and wrapped in barbed wire. Eric soon takes it upon himself to read passages from the book, ignoring repeated warnings scrawled throughout, and, you know, the barbed wire which had bound it shut in the first place. This unleashes a presence which begins to haunt the group.
The detox scenario works wonderfully in the context of the film, providing a tight work-around of many typical horror clichés, just not all of them. There are still times within the film you’ll be wanting to scream “OH, DEAR GOD WHY??” and “DON’T DO THAT!!”, but I guess those sort of reactions come with the territory.
The special effects in this film are above par. I was a tad apprehensive when I read that director Fede Alvarez decided to use minimal CGI and instead pursue a more traditional method of visual effects. However, I was delighted with how squeamish and uncomfortable these scenes were. If anybody tells you that the movie is pretty violent, forget it, this has to be one of the most violent films that I have witnessed. The combination of visual effects with the horrific sound design adds a level of realism that I haven’t seen for a long time. When skin is pierced, torn or even burnt it all just looks REAL. Coupled with great cinematography throughout, it comes together as very polished.
Ultimately, I loved the combination of the violence, the acting, the story and the subtle homages to the original trilogy (and some not so subtle). Alvarez has managed to create a sequel/reboot that should delight long serving fans of the trilogy, while working new fans into the fold. While this film in particular does tend to lean on the serious side of things compared to the originals, small sparks of very dark humour are present throughout. With a sequel already in the works (reportedly alongside a sequel of the original trilogy), I can’t wait to see what the devil Alvarez gets up to next.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10