Movie review: ‘Evil Dead’ a worthy reboot
The ads for this reboot of Sam Raimi’s fright fests of the ’80s, “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2,” label it the most terrifying film ever made. Well, no, that honor still goes to “The Exorcist.” Advance praise for the film goes on to say that it’s the best in the series. Umm, no, “Evil Dead 2,” that odd mix of adrenaline-fueled horror and Three Stooges slapstick, will always be the king of this weird domain.
But there’s certainly room for praise concerning this new entry in the “people trapped in an isolated cabin by a demon” genre. It’s a remake of “The Evil Dead,” the far more serious of the two predecessing films. First time Uruguayan feature writer-director Fede Alvarez has taken plot elements of “The Evil Dead,” turned the blood and horror quotient up to 11, listened attentively to Raimi and his producing partners (among them original “Evil Dead” star Bruce Campbell), and given us something approaching the exact same movie, but one that’s supposed to tantalize a whole new audience.
A preface introduces us to the “Book of the Dead” and its dreadful powers. The scene sets the gruesome mood, and does tie into the story that follows, but a little more disciplined writing later on would have made the sequence unnecessary.
The proper start of the film has five friends meet (Mia and Dave are brother and sister) at that long-deserted isolated cabin. The updated story has them there to help Mia with her drug addiction, to keep her there till she kicks it.
Then their old dog picks up a scent, then the scent is pinpointed to be in the creepy basement which, naturally, is littered with burnt, hanging cats and is home to a mysterious package that’s tightly wrapped in barbed wire.
What’s in the package? The “Book of the Dead,” of course. What happens next? Lots of things, quickly. The dog meets its maker; the nerdiest of the five friends opens the grisly-illustration-filled book, reads what’s written in blood on the first page – “LEAVE THIS BOOK ALONE” – along with other warnings about not saying anything from it aloud; he says things aloud ... and, wouldn’t you know it, an unseen demon is unleashed, hurtling toward the cabin through the deep woods on, you guessed it, a dark and stormy night.
From that point on, this becomes a twisted version of what could be called “Five Little Indians,” where our small group of characters is killed/demonized one at a time. It’s too bad that no one handed out easy-to-follow rules to these poor suckers. Rules like “don’t look in the mirror” or “don’t slip on the blood on the bathroom floor” or, most importantly, “DON’T GO IN THE BASEMENT!”
No, this is not the most terrifying movie ever made, but it’s got enough graphic gotchas and gore galore for weak-kneed viewers to swear off horror films forever. For those who like this kind of thing, it’s an interactive movie, in that the loud sounds (screams, chainsaw, guns) coming from the screen are about equal in volume to loud sounds (screams, yells, nervous laughter) coming from the audience. It’s one of those films that’s fun to watch in a dark, crowded room – nothing more, nothing less.
Note: Bruce Campbell fans will want to stay till the bitter end, after the credits.
Ed Symkus covers movies for GateHouse Media.
Written by Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, Rodo Sayagues; directed by Fede Alvarez
With Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore