Fede Alvarez’s remake/reboot of Evil Dead is fiercely relentless and one of the best big budget horror offerings I’ve seen in awhile. While the film isn’t perfect, it gets the big epic moments right, which makes it extremely easy to look past its flaws. While it still retains the kids being cooped up in a cabin plot line, the stakes are very different and make for a much more interesting film, in terms of the overall story and character arc. This version follows Mia (Jane Levy) a recovering heroin addict, that is relying on her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) to help her get through her tough withdraw. David (Shiloh Fernandez), Mia’s brother, who left Mia and his friends behind, is also there with his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), to show their support for his younger sister. While in the midst of Mia’s withdrawal fits, they find a cellar door that leads them to finding the Book of the Dead. This unleashes an evil that begins to possess each of them as the struggle to stay alive.
One of the best parts about this version of Evil Dead is Jane Levy, in both her brilliant performance as Mia and the trials her character must endure. With the stakes of her possibly killing herself through drug abuse, her character arc is much stronger than any other character arc in the Raimi version. All of the people in the original are really archetypes, which many are in this version as well, but with the inclusion of Mia in a state like this, it makes her journey through all this feel much more rewarding, than another girl just trying to fight for survival. From her withdrawal, to her demonic possession, to then becoming the triumphant heroine, Jane Levy shows an incredible range that marks as a major highlight of the film.
As I mentioned archetypes before, that is the only major flaw and downside to the film, in that it seems as though its going to develop its characters and then just decides not to. From the nerdy Eric to the medical training of Olivia, not a single character’s history or background is explored. We get hints of things here and there, we learn pieces of how this group fell apart, but nothing truly substantial. Even with David, who sort of becomes the protagonist in the second act of the film, never has the opportunity to showcase his character’s history, aspirations or motivations, with the exception of being supportive.
Even with these minor gripes, the one thing that truly matters is if it delivers as much of a terrifying experience as the original. While there are moments to laugh and giggle at the camp and low budget aspects of Raimi’s Evil Dead, it still does everything in its power to terrify you. Fede’s version goes the extra mile to ensure that gore hounds and horror fanatics get what they want in this memorable experience. Retaining some of the fantastic camera work that made Evil Dead such a visceral horror movie, this 2013 version uses this in tandem with some incredible make up and CGI that are truly unsettling. Dismemberment, self mutilation and plenty of other elements that make up the shocking imagery, but what it gets right through these elements is the tone and spirit of Evil Dead.
While there’s still some flaw in places, this is a film that’s a remake of Evil Dead, a low budget horror movie that made an incredible impact, due to its boldness and bravado of what a horror film could be. I don’t know if this film will leave as much of an impact, but I certainly love the fact that Alvarez’s version of Evil Dead, goes right for the jugular! Highly Recommended!