Matt's Review of Evil Dead
Evil Dead made a big mistake by having a bold statement printed in large letters across its poster, saying THE MOST TERRIFYING FILM YOU WILL EVER EXPERIENCE. Unfortunately for the more experienced horror fans this film is not that terrifying, with not much true scares delivered, to me it failed in that department.
When I first saw the original The Evil Dead I was in 6th grade and I remember really being spooked by it and could never get that pencil in the ankle part out of my head. I think The Evil Dead was the first really gory movie I've ever seen at the time and made me love horror films even more and really check out the classics. The acting in the original was laughably bad, but in an entertaining and charming sort of way, with a charismatic protagonist Bruce Campbell as the iconic Ash. Of all the old horror films I've seen in the past The Evil Dead wasn't a true favorite of mine, Poltergeist is still number 1 on that list, which is also being remade to my dismay. The original also hasn't aged too well either and watching it now is more for laughs than anything else, but I always admired its atmosphere and DIY gory and brilliant practical effects. You can't deny that The Evil Dead much like Halloween before it, paved a way for horror films and unknown horror filmmakers trying to make a breakthrough, it made a lasting impact for sure.
The new Evil Dead isn't a horrible remake and in fact it's the most loyal and not watered down ones out there and amps the violence and gore up to the brilliant extreme! It gives several nods to the original but makes it its own, some scenes though happen too fast and there wasn't enough suspense and I never thought I would say this but the pace was way too fast making the experience all too predictable. I absolutely loved the look of the new Evil Dead atmosphere; it stays true to the original's atmosphere but polishes it to perfection. The remake doesn't surpass or improve and fix the originals problems but didn't quite fall below it either; it can proudly stand side by side. This isn't groundbreaking again or will help the horror genre move forward but it could of been way worse. Also the last 10 minutes of the film was insane and much better than the first half.
The acting for the most part was uneven but an improvement over the original. This is Jane Levy's movie though, she delivers a memorably creepy and to me breakthrough performance as Mia, who is fighting a heroin addiction and agrees to go to a remote cabin in the woods with her brother and friends to finally kick this shameful habit to the curb for good. Right away strange things start to happen, which leads to the discovery of the book of the dead and the controversial and still uncomfortable tree rape scene, which isn't as prolonged this time around but just as sadistic. The evil dead soon takes over Mia's body and all hell breaks loose and blood covers the screen. Jane Levy is really put through the ringer in this film and has such a challenging and layered role to take on and she succeeds in flying colors. Jane stole every scene she was in and her character is the only one worth rooting for, as the other characters seem like cardboard cutouts of unsuspecting horror film victims. A new scream queen is born and that's Jane Levy! Shiloh Fernandez who plays Mia's brother David, Lou Taylor Pucci who plays Eric, Jessica Lucas who plays Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore who plays David's girlfriend Natalie all do their best, but their characters fell flat to me and underdeveloped to give a damn and their characters made some pretty idiotic moves and common horror movie mistakes. None of them where annoyingly distracting though and their demises were very brutal, I just wish their characters had more to do than to just serve the plot especially Jessica Lucas, who they totally underused here.
It's pretty amazing that this is director's Fede Alvarez first major and full-length film as it's expertly and confidently crafted, his future as horror filmmaker looks promising as it's permanently planted and can't wait to see it grow. You can see his love and inspiration for the original film and with guiding hands like the original director Sam Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell who are the producers, they couldn't do that much damage from the get-go. The writing is a different story as it all came up flat to me. Fede collaborated with Rodo Sayagues and Diablo Cody who she wrote the sleeper hit Juno and made a semi comeback with Young Adult. Diablo Cody seems to be delivering hits and misses, Juno was great, Jennifer's Body was ok but fell flat, Young Adult was again great but once another horror movie comes along her signature sharp, witty and meaty dialogue disappears. Of all horror movies Evil Dead deserved to have that kind of dialogue, it was all just too damn serious and if you are not going to back up the bold statement in your poster at least bring on the twisted laughs and sharpness.
Overall, Evil Dead's downfall is that it was much too over hyped and overrated much like The Cabin in the Woods. There was also a scene or two that was shown in the trailers that weren't in the film, like for instance a possessed Mia saying, "We're going to get you. We're going to get you. Not another peep. Time to go to sleep" bit, which is one of my favorite creepy lines from the original film. I'm curious to see what the DVD uncut version is going to show. Most of the characters came up flat thanks to a flat screenplay but expanding the mythology of the book of the dead was intriguing and Jane Levy as Mia stole the show and came on top. They got the atmosphere, practical yet polished gore effects down to a T that was gloriously brilliant and intense in some scenes. I never felt the terror, fear, and suspense, excitement that the amazing trailer brought to me but maybe this is a start of something much greater in the future if they continue this new saga. For now I wouldn't call it an unnecessary remake but also never made a great point to exist either but for the sake of gore and lots of it. Wait for DVD where the uncut version will be hopefully available.