The Movie Man: The new "Evil Dead" true to genre
April 24, 2013, By Tim Fak, People often ask me about my favorite film. To be honest, I find it really hard to pick a favorite and my list of favorites is probably hundreds of titles long. Therefore, my answer to the favorite question varies day by day according to my mood. On days when I’m feeling a bit mischievous, my answer will frequently be "Evil Dead II", usually followed by a tongue in cheek comment about how cinema reached its peak with that film. Although I’m half joking when I say that, I really do love the Evil Dead films and was very excited to see the newest entry on the series titled appropriately enough: "Evil Dead".
"Evil Dead" can be viewed as either a remake of the 1982 original or a loose sequel of sorts to the original trilogy of films. It follows the same basic premise, but features a new plot, though plot may be too sophisticated a term for what’s on offer here. Using the classic set up from the original "Evil Dead" (and it’s countless imitator’s and parodies) the film deposits a group of young people at a remote cabin in some ominous woods, has them accidentally unleash some mysterious occult force and then try to survive the night against a supernatural onslaught.
Once the film spends 15 minutes to establish this premise, it gets to treat the audience to what they really came to see a continuous series of attacks by various demonic creatures and deliver it does. The film is pretty relentless in its pace and does come up with some good situations and gags. It may not offer much, but no one can say it doesn’t deliver what it promises.
"Evil Dead" is not the kind of film that relies on subtle or particularly skilled acting to make its point, but it does make the most of its cast of young unknowns. The characters are mostly generic and interchangeable, but you do get the usual mix of types you always do in films of this sort. Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez play the leads and are adequate enough to anchor the film if not particularly memorable. The supporting characters are a bit more colorful with Jessica Lucas playing a nurse that serves to provide the reasoned voice of science and Lou Taylor Pucci looking like a 1970’s southern rocker and spitting out exposition for the audience. As I said, there’s not much to say in the acting department, but let’s face it if you’re watching this film for the acting you’re missing the point.
The best thing I can say about "Evil Dead" is that it does create some pretty intense suspense. It’s intense, ominous and frequently creates more tension than most horror films these days can hope to do. Curiously, it doesn’t really rely on the usual “jump moments” where something rapidly pops up on screen to goose the audience, instead using the full bag of tricks available to the filmmakers such as lighting, sound and pacing to achieve the same effect. Indeed, the film is so good at this; there were frequent moments where the audience I saw the film with jumped even though nothing particular was happening at the moment.
Branching off this, "Evil Dead" is one seriously spooky looking film. Everything from the woods to the cabin to the costumes contributes perfectly to the creepy vibe. Likewise the makeup for the demonically possessed creatures looks awesome. Oh yeah, and the gore effects, which are numerous look great too. To top it off, Evil Dead accomplishes all this without modern CGI effects, choosing to limit itself to the old school practical effects available at the time of the original film. This gives the film something of a cool retro look that fits pretty well and is one more thing to enhance the overall cool vibe.
The question fans of the original films are sure to be asking is how worthy is this new film of the legacy of the originals, and I couldn’t be happier to report that "Evil Dead" absolutely shines in this regard. The kinetic camera work is practically lifted from the original frame by frame, and all the iconic scenes and situations from the original are homaged in one form or another. This would definitely be a film to see with a large group of fans of the series as many of these touches and references are sure to be met with smiles and cheers.
The one key area where the film diverges from its predecessors is in its utter lack of humor. Sardonic, black humor was one of the biggest trademarks of this series and it’s almost completely missing here( although I personally found the unrelentingly grim and intense tone to work fine for this film), there’s still a sense of something missing, and it’s sure to disappoint some fans.
"Evil Dead" also takes the prize for being the goriest film I’ve ever seen (a record it steals from "Evil Dead II" by the way.) The film probably features gallons of fake blood by the thousands and also treats the audience to fake bile in all the colors of the rainbow. We get spurting blood, vomited blood, gushing blood, and even raining blood. In addition, there’s just about every other form of brutal violence you can think of complete with the series’ trademark limb dismemberment. It has an R rating that is extremely well earned. Granted fans of the series will absolutely go in expecting this, but any unsuspecting members of the general public who happen to wander in are likely to be at least a little taken aback.
Overall, I found "Evil Dead" to be more than worthy to take up the cult classic mantle of this iconic series. It’s grim, sometimes gross, always bloody and not infrequently in poor taste, but it’s also a film that knows its target audience and delivers exactly what it knows they’ll expect. In fact, given the limitations of what it is, I think it’s probably as close to perfect as can be, even if it’s not for everyone, or even most people.
Rated 3 stars out of a possible 4.
Tim Fak is a graduate of Illinois State University's School of Fine Arts and has a passion for movies.