Evil Dead (2013)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 31, 2013 | Comments
Sony | Region B | 2.39:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Evil Dead (2013) Cover Art
Credits
Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Screenplay: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Country: USA
Sometimes the tone of a film is really what makes it work so well. Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead succeeded not just because of its gory set pieces and crazy storyline, but also because of its chutzpah and wry sense of humour, which at its core had the blackest of hearts. For me, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, the first Evil Dead remake, made that black humour far too over-the-top, and failed because of this.

Evil Dead 2013 suffers the exact opposite: its failure lies in that it takes itself far too seriously.

Mia (Jane Levy) is a drug addict, and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) along with friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore)  have taken her to her family's secluded cabin in the woods, to help her dry out and offer their support through the coming down process. When they arrive however they find that the cabin has been broken into, and that some sort of ritual has been performed in the basement. Eric finds a book, wrapped in plastic and bound in barbed wire, and curiosity being what it is, he opens it.

We all know what curiosity kills though, and after Eric reads a passage from the book, weird things start to happen. Is Mia's coming down tougher than they all thought, or has something taken her… something that wants to swallow their souls?

Firstly I have to compliment director Fede Alvarez on the visual style of the film. Whilst it may not have some of the innovation brought on by budgetary constraints that Raimi had to deal with, his take on Evil Dead is at times breathtaking to look at. Alvarez manages to keep the film quite timeless by not including a load of current gadgets, and by giving it that washed out 'sepia' look. The gore also looks spectacular, and the blood splattered mayhem initially made the little gorehound hidden deep inside me stand up and applaud, and also cringe, which rarely happens these days.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much where my interest in the film ends.

The plotline is rehashed from the original, but updated to suit more current moviegoers attitudes, and with a few deliberate twists added to the mix to throw fans of the original off. This is something that perpetually annoys me about remakes: the need to turn a story on its head just for the sake of being different. This is little more than a writer's ploy to say he put 'his' mark on the film.

Sorry guys, but putting butter under my popcorn doesn't make me an innovator.

Of course, the film is full of those 'fan service' bits where iconic imagery from the original pops up for no reason other than to make you remember this is a remake, and not an homage or a flat out rip off.

The characters were photocopies of each other, and really, any of them could have said each other's dialogue and you wouldn't have even noticed. This was made even more apparent by average performances, except for the one executed by Lou Taylor Pucci, whose performance was so annoying I considered punching the chips out of my television.

The real problem with this film though, lies in the fact that it didn't 'get' the first Evil Dead. I stated earlier that I initially enjoyed the gore, but when you batter a viewer with non stop images of bodily trauma, eventually the old brain stops being shocked. Raimi's Evil Dead understood that to make the violence and gore more shocking, you need shades of light and dark within the entire tone of the film. Raimi himself failed this uneasy balancing act with too much light in Evil Dead 2, and this film fails with its constant darkness. The original film had the idea of friends on a holiday to give the film some levity, but with idea that the friends are helping one of their own overcome a drug addiction, the story starts in a dark place, and doesn't allow for any variation.

The last thing that really rubbed my rhubarb the wrong way here was the appearance of the 'buried' demon. Seriously, since the exposure to the Western world of Eastern films, particularly that of ' J-horror', demon possession designers have gotten lazy, and I assumed I had fallen asleep, and someone had changed the disc I was watching to that of The Ring, or The Grudge, or any one of the other scary, black haired girl ghost films.

I really wanted to like this latest version of Evil Dead, and honestly, the frequent splatter almost fooled me into thinking it was a good film, but it's not. It delivers the violence any good horror fan would want, but without levels of light, it's just a barrage that eventually becomes overwhelming, and dare I say it, boring and disappointing.
The Disc
The sound and picture quality of this disc are outstanding. The 1080p image is remarkably crisp, with vibrants colours (particularly those bloody reds) and flawless blacks while the DTS-HD Master Audio sound punches you in the head with an aggressive audio mix that compliments the on-screen mayhem.

Extras begin with a commentary by actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Jessica Lucas with Director Alvarez and writer Rodo Satagues. It's an entertaining track, and most of their recollections are either informative or amusing.

Directing the Dead is a look at what processes director Alvarez used to make the film, and get performances from the cast.

Evil Dead the Reboot has interviews with Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell about being convinced to do a remake… sorry, a 'reboot', and with Alvarez and Sayagues about approaching a cult favourite and the risks therein.

Making Life Difficult discusses how psychologically hard it was for the actors to film the intensity of a film such as this.

Unleashing the Evil Force talks about the lore of the Book of the Dead.

Being Mia follows Jane Levy around on a day on the set, and looks at some of the tortures the director put her through… actually, a lot of the extras are very Levy Heavy, so the producers must have decided she is the Next Big Thing.

Previews starts with a trailer promoting Bluray as a format (hot tip idiots: I'm watching a Bluray disc, so I possibly already know about it) before giving us trailers for Django Unchained, After Earth, This Is The End, White House Down and Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
This, the second remake of Evil Dead, is the polar opposite of the first remake, Evil Dead 2. If you could take this far too dark remake and mix it with Evil Dead 2's levity, you'd have a spectacular film. Wait a second… that already happened: it's a film called The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi. Watch that instead: it's the best of both worlds.
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