Evil Dead (2013)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 6.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 9/10

EVIL DEAD (2013) - Fede Alvarez

"Kunda. Strata. Mantuse. Kanda."

These four words can unleash the most shocking, most terrifying hell our fellow characters will ever confront in their lives. Yes, this is the much-anticipated remake of the original 1981 Sam Raimi classic -- The Evil Dead. If, God forbid, you are unfamiliar with the Evil Dead franchise, here is a basic rundown: It is made out of three films (The Evil DeadEvil Dead 2Army of Darkness) that all star Bruce Campbell, and it is one of the largest cult film trilogies in history, in addition to being some of the goriest bloodiest films of all time.

Produced by Raimi and Campbell together, this new 2013 Evil Dead is definitely the first horror film where its trailer actually affected me. Recall all those horror trailer cliches where it begins like a jolly drama but suddenly turn upside? Forget that. If you are making a trailer for a horror film, especially Evil Dead, you have to "dive right into the good stuff." That's right, the first two trailers released by the film are red band. Don't know what red band means? To be as straightforward as possible: It means the graphic at the beginning of the trailer is not green, but red, not "all audiences," but "restricted audiences." Groovy.

For months, Campbell has promised us deadite-wannabes that Evil Dead is going to be the blood monsoon that we all wanted. We had his word for it. Well, the evil has now arrived. Is our thirst going to be quenched? Or are we all going to die tonight?

Evil Dead revolves around Mia (Jane Levy), her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and three other friends who become held up in a remote cabin in the woods when they discover the Necronomicon, an ancient Sumerian text. Unaware of the danger, they unwittingly summon malevolent demons, which begin possessing each character one by one. Once possessed, these characters, or "deadites," start doing atrociously sick things to themselves….

Naturally, the film's main cast only consists of the five people. Simple enough. However, before they find the Necronomicon, the film takes a little bit of time explaining why this group is there at the cabin in the first place -- Mia is trying to get over her drug habit. At this point, three of the other four characters have nearly identical, if not cardboard personalities. This is because the dialogue is very lacking. Many times, a certain individual will respond to an event the same way twice, rendering the film's overall character behavior a bit repetitive, if not stupid.

Sadly, this flaw of defective dialogue continues to grow into the cast's acting like a disease. Among the cast of five, four of them hold monotonous substance in their acting until they actually get scared. Once the horror begins, the acting gets more believable. Fortunately, the introduction is very short and the gore fest kicks in very quickly, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because the faulty dialogue and acting could have butchered the film before the actual scares start. Bad, because the film still did not take enough time "fleshing out" the characters and make them a bit worth caring about. They're not bad characters, don't get me wrong. However, they are not quite as memorable as I had hoped. Lucky for the cast, the disease of the clumsy acting is swiftly cured by one of the film's most pleasant surprises: Jane Levy.

Jane Levy's Mia is a straight-on believable character with the perfect traits of a lead female in horror: Flawed, worth caring about. Casting Levy in the role of the protagonist may just be the best decision in horror movie casting since Sigourney Weaver in Alien and Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Whether it is human Mia or deadite Mia, Levy pulls the audience into the most twisted breakout performance seen in years. Her facial expressions and emotional scope range from nervous to frantic, distressed to purely terrified -- it is fear and terror in its most lifelike form. Even when given the lacking dialogue, Levy manages to break the script's chains and let herself go, ultimately "possessing" Mia's character on screen.

As mentioned before, Evil Dead starts taking off really quickly once the Necronomicon is read. What follows is inevitably *the* bloodiest film I have ever seen in my life. However, I can't help but succumb to the genius of how the horror actually begins: By nodding to one of the original's notorious scenes.

Evil Dead's greatest triumph is the simple blessing the filmmakers have made: Not using CGI and going back to the original roots of practical illusion effects, using makeup, props, and other visual tricks. Mentioned by Director Alvarez, not a single shot in the film used computer-generated imagery, believing it to be cheap. Everything that you see in the film is real. With the best practical effects that remind us of our love for, well, The Evil DeadEvil Dead delivers a splattering gut circus that includes a tongue splitting in half by licking a box cutter, an eye stabbed with a hypodermic needle, amputation via electric saw, and something about a nail gun. Oh, and trust me, the chainsaw fulfills its usage too.

Do yourself a favor and go see Evil Dead in the theater with a large crowd. Scream along with them. It really enhances the experience. For me, I was shaking when the film was over, not just because of the shocking roller coaster ride that Evil Dead made us take, but because of the fact that a horror film in 2013 is able to go back to simplistic filmmaking roots to scare us. In addition to a mesmerizing performance by Levy and tremendously impressive effects, the film thrives with excellent lighting and eerie camerawork, most notably the return of Raimi's traveling shots. Taking a little bit of everything in its genre, Evil Dead holds the term scary, shocking, disturbing, and creepy, exceptionally directed by Alvarez, who has a fascination to using stylistic editing and creepy sound effects.

Also, do yourself another tiny favor: Try not to compare Evil Dead to the original. If you temporarily keep Raimi's classic at the back of your mind, you might just come to appreciate a lot more out of a horror film made like this remake today. 

Intentional or not, Evil Dead does carry more thematic power on its back than it looks, hinting about the conflict of people facing their inner demons. It is quite possible that Mia and her demonic self in the film are analogical. Whether or not the filmmakers wanted to push this theme, I finished the film with great exhaustion and great respect for the heroine that is Mia.

Is Evil Dead "the most terrifying film you will ever experience"? Well, no, not really. But "the most cringeworthy film you will ever experience" is close enough, and for this critic, that is satisfying beyond belief. For all the die-hard fans who bought a ticket to Evil Dead, you bought that ticket for a reason and for an expectation. Fear not, for this remake is as fresh and organic as horror remakes can come, while at the same time providing numerous Easter eggs that point back to the Raimi classic. Campbell's promise is indeed true. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you might end up watching it more than once. At least for me, I would be buying the uncut Blu-ray, for that is the original cut that gave Evil Dead an NC-17 rating, before it was forced to cut down and receive an R. As for the newcomers who wonder what's in store for them. Go see it. I dare you.

In conclusion, Evil Dead is the best you can get for a horror remake made in 2013: a largely impressive adrenaline rush that soaks the audience in a bloodbath and never holds back. The script in general does have a few gaping holes that could have been filled, but then again it is enough to set up the plunge to gruesome terror. Swiftly saved by Jane Levy's performance, and well-equipped with Alvarez's direction, Evil Dead is a modern horror classic that returns to state-of-the-art practical effects and simplistic gory terrors. The spirits have spoken. The Evil Dead franchise is reborn. And finally, if you are an Evil Dead fan to begin with, stay after the credits….


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