Evil Dead (18)
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Running time: 93mins
Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.
Wow, this must have been a daunting prospect. A virtually unknown director reboots a classic movie that has one of the most passionate fanbases on the planet and on top of all that, it’s the always tough genre of horror. If the movie was watchable it was against the odds. The fact that it’s actually really good sets it as a near triumph.
The story of five young friends heading to a cabin in the remotest part of the woods in order to help a drug addicted friend get back on the right track isn’t exactly the most complex around, but what sets this apart is that it knows all the conventions and director Alvarez, rather than making this feel like an homage, actually manages to make it feel like an actual entry in the Evil Dead saga.
It’s all here, the deliciously black humour, the near stomach turning gruesome effects and a cast of near forgettable teens – come on, aside from Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ash, can you name any of the others? – the camera tearing through the forest towards the cabin/victims, the quick edits, the nods to what we know and love, the chainsaw and of course the book of the dead where it all starts. Again. And it all works well…
Which leads us to the question on the mind of everyone who’s seen this… is it a sequel? A reboot? A re-imagining? It seems to be all of the above and also none of them. Indeed, in the making off docs on the disc Campbell himself says this is a different universe but the same book of the dead… and the after credits scene only confuses things more.
But what of the movie itself? Well, it’s a hell (pun intended) of a lot of gory fun with its tongue (pun intended) firmly in cheek.
The friends (Jane Levy as the main character Mia, Shiloh Fernandez as David, Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie) do the best they can with the material, and they truly try to inject the reality into the situation – especially Levy as Mia who successfully channels both Ash and the demonic presence with aplomb – but at the end of the day they are mainly there for one reason and one reason only: to have truly awful things happen to them… and happen they do.
Faces peel off, tongues are carved in two and nail guns are used to great effect but curiously it’s the few little wounds that truly make the viewer shudder – watch for the machete going through the dry wall in the final act. And all the time you’re repulsed and horrified, but damned if you aren’t along for the ride. Alvarez uses classic practical effects to crank the horror through the roof and he’s to be celebrated for it; he hasn’t just watched the other movies, he’s studied and dissected them, keeping what he loved for this entry in the series.
Alvarez has done the near impossible and made this movie not just good, but one I want to see more of and by the time the after-credits scene kicks in as the credits end and the familiar bit of dialogue kicks in I was at a fanboy fever pitch!
Is Levy the new Ash? Hell no, but she doesn’t try to be… it just kinda happens. Is Alvarez the new Raimi? Keep and eye on him, he has the potential.
The actors and film-makers suffer for their art here and it pays off, fun, scary and unpleasant in several great parts, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but count me in for the next one.