Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast:Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Release Date: April 17
Running Time: 92 mins
In a 1988 interview with a young Johnathan Ross, Sam Raimi, still weathering the storm of The Evil Dead series’ success and controversy, expressed regret over his infamous tree rape scene, describing it as “unnecessarily gratuitous…and a little too brutal.”
25 years later and another possy of hubris riddled youths find themselves subjected to untold(ish) horrors in Fede Avarez’s Evil Dead remake. And of course the biggest/bloodiest check box of all is ticked, with a tree rape scene that Avaraz himself has fairly accurately noted is “way more terrible than the original.” It’s long and brutal, yet no matter how far this film pushes the envelope, how many gallons of blood and bile it deals in, it could never really be as shocking—or even challenging—as it’s namesake, because we’ve seen it all before.
This isn’t the only wink and nod moment in the film; a tool shed montage, stalking camera and wanton dismemberment all knowingly hark back to the Evil Dead heritage. Though as obvious as what it borrows from the original is what it leaves behind. This is a serious affair, foregoing Raimi’s trademark twisted humour and adopting a slightly more somber style of hysteria, clearly taking a lot from The Ring and The Exorcist.
Not that Evil Dead is purely an exercise in regurgitation. Using the crafty set up of a self imposed detox, the film depicts one of its teens growing increasingly demented under the effects of demonic possession while their peers shrug it off as ‘coming down’. It slaps a patch of dramatic irony over some the usual frustrations that comes with the genre, and proves there’s slightly more to this than just being exceptionally gruesome.
And yet it’s the—let’s just say above average—quantities of gore that Evil Dead is hanging its hat on. The much hyped tongue-on-box-cutter action is just as wretched as you’d imagine. Though it’s a self imposed face-ectomy, relayed mostly through grisly sound effects aimed right at your gag reflex, that’ll stick with you.
All of this madness is punctuated by the same strip-lit under-saturated look that has become the visual calling card of most horror remakes. Fortunately, the film offers up just enough craftsmanship to elevate it above its contemporaries, and enough substance to be—slightly—more than a sadomasochistic roller coaster.
It goes without saying that if you don’t enjoy the skin crawling button-pushing of this kind of horror movie, Evil Dead is not for you. Though for fans of a genre that typically coasts by with a stream of releases falling somewhere between average and awful, Evil Dead is something worth getting excited about.