The original Evil Dead is one of my all time favorite fright flicks, so I was very apprehensive about a remake. With Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and even Bruce Campbell on board as producers, I hoped the material would at least be treated with respect. Now having seen this new vision of one of the all-time horror classics, I can say not only was the material treated with respect, but it is one of the best horror remakes and one hell of a nasty, scary, bloody blast. The best thing is that co-writer and first time director Fede Alvarez smartly takes the basic premise and does his own thing with it.
This version has heroin addict, Mia (Suburgatory’s Jane Levy) being taken by big brother, David (Skateland’s Shiloh Fernandez) and three friends to an old family cabin to try to get Mia to quit her habit cold turkey. But someone has been in the cabin since they were last there and something gruesome has definitely gone on inside, with blood stains and dozens of dead animals hanging in the cellar. Of course there is also a mysterious book and within it, ominous warnings that certain words not be read aloud…so, of course, someone does…and at the same time Mia is alone in the woods…uh, oh…I don’t need to tell you that soon Mia is possessed by some horrible demonic entity and the gruesome blood-soaked nightmare begins as the ancient evil wants to claim them all.
Alvarez really crafts a strong, gruesome and scary horror of the likes we haven’t seen in a while. It’s vicious and nasty with top notch gore and make-up that is done the old fashioned way without any CGI. When limbs fly…and they do, it is good old fashioned prosthetics and I loved the lack of CGI when it came to the ghouls and gore. Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues (Diablo Cody was supposedly hired to work on the script, but if she was credited, I missed it.) basically give us enough elements of the original to make it recognizable as an Evil Dead flick and thus fits in with the series, but makes the flick it’s own animal…and that’s the way to do a remake like this. Alvarez is the real deal, who knows how to make a good old fashioned horror movie complete with suspense, tension and intensity, not to mention, plentiful scares. He also gives the film a strong atmosphere and I really liked his visual style.
He gets good work from his cast too, especially leading lady Levy whose character has a few stages to go through from heroin addict to a demon possessed creature to…well, you’ll have to see the flick to find out. Shiloh Fernandez is also very good, after a lifeless performance in Red Riding Hood, he shows us the actor we saw in Skateland was no fluke. The rest, Lou Taylor Pucci (Spring) as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, do fine making their characters more than demon fodder and they are all likable enough to make us afraid for them when all hell breaks loose.
The flick is not perfect, but any flaws are minor and can be overlooked due to all that is done right. Evil Dead 2013 may not be as groundbreaking as the original and only time will tell if it will be highly regarded like it’s predecessor, but it is a strong, visceral horror that gives equal parts suspense and scares with all the goo and gore. Maybe not quite a classic, but a film worthy of the title Evil Dead. Well done!… and stay to watch after the credits!
Check out our look back at the original classic that started it all!… HERE!
Rated A very solid 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) demon possessed sitcom stars
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
The Cabin In The Woods was originally filmed in 2009, but wasn’t released due to financial problems at it’s original studio, MGM. The film was finally released by Lionsgate in 2012 after an almost 3 year wait…and worth the wait it was!
If anyone knows how to have fun with pop culture horror conventions, it’s Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) and he and Director Drew Goddard craft a funhouse of a horror movie by doing just that…and we are happily along for the bloody fun ride. Cabin is a movie where the less you know going in, the better…so, I’ll simply say that it starts out with the classic “five young partiers heading up to an isolated cabin” scenario and then turns this horror sub-genre into something quite different and deviously fun.
Aside from a really clever script, Cabin benefits from the fact that Drew Goddard knows how to craft suspense and scares, despite letting us in early on what is going on. We also get a bunch of likable characters to root and care for and the cast is as likable as the characters they play. This is very important to make a horror flick work and so many films today makes their leads unlikable jerks who we could care less about. We are only scared when we care what happens to the protagonists and here we do. From plucky heroine Dana (Kristen Connolly) to hunky Curt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) to stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), we really like all five characters and it adds to the film’s effect that we don’t want to see them suffer the fate that has befallen them. And what a clever and cruel fate Whedon and Goddard have in store for their victims…and, in turn, providing a clever and inventive blood-soaked horror for all of us.
The FX are top notch and the performances from his cast, especially leading heroine Connolly, are all good and help make the wicked scenario work. The script provides plenty of scares and gore, but also gives us some tension-relieving laughs with Whedon’s trademark sly humor. Everything is blended together well by director Goddard, who gets us primed and ready for the “all hell breaks loose” final act…and that is a blood spattered treat, let me tell you!
A real horror movie blast! Also stars Jesse Williams as Holden, Anna Hutchison as Jules and a really fun surprise cameo that I won’t spoil here! One of the most inventive and fun horror movies in quite a long time! Highly recommended!
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) cabins!