Four friends have taken to a family cabin in the woods to help their friend Mia in her struggle with drug addiction. The plan is to hang out at the cabin, stay with her as she kicks her habit cold turkey and then return home with her rehabilitated and ready for a drug free life. Problems arise when the group realizes that not only has their cabin been broken into during their absence, but a wacky cult-like ritual had apparently taken place in the basement, evidenced by dead cats hanging from the ceiling and a shotgun with shells laying on a table next to a strange and ominous package wrapped in both plastic and barbed wire. Mia’s withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest as her friends watch on, with tensions rising and old disputes coming to the surface. It’s at this point where the one dude who should probably know better opens the plastic and barbed wire covered package to find a strange book from which he reads arcane passages. Mia gets possessed and things get weird.
As the 1981 original is the epitome of cult classic, it is well to mention here that, like most of you, I was extremely skeptical of this release as soon as i heard of it being in production. I mean, how are they going to take on such an iconic movie and make it new and interesting for the jaded gore-hounds and horror purists? Is this for the little kid, reality show watching, iPhone tapping generation who have never even seen the original source material? Is this movie for those who need attractive 20somethings in their horror for it to even register?
From the opening sequence to the final blood drenched finale, director Fede Alvarez’s interpretation of Sam Raimi’s classic is very clearly derived from a place of nerdy hero worship and reverence. Watching this movie is not unlike watching a band doing their interpretation of another band’s song; all of the notes are there, but the sound is still fresh and original because it’s told through different and distinct voices. Alvarez indulges old fans by keeping all of the familiar details in the movie, details that I will not mention here so that fans of the movie will find them on their own. He engages both new and old fans not only with the aforementioned plot change, but mostly with one thing: over the top, all practical effect derived gore. Glorious, horrific, maniacal gore. It’s refreshing to see in a world where the horror schlock that’s currently being pushed on the general public is mostly computer generated and consequently ineffective in deriving the one thing that all horror movies set out to achieve: fear in the viewer. This movie may not have the most memorable dialogue or the best actors, but this movie has effective scares and shocks that should terrify viewers.
Alvarez’s attention to the craft of horror movie making and movie making in general is a result of his commitment to his status as a fan first. With Evil Dead, Alvarez made that movie that he would be excited to see as a fan himself. “As a fan, one thing that i always thought was that Hollywood chooses to make bad movies before making good ones. That they have all of these good scripts but they want to make the bad ones to make lots of money, but that’s not how it really is. They have to make a lot of movies because there’s a lot of people working in that industry, but there’s not enough good stuff out there. The movies that end up getting made, those are the best scripts out there. You can imagine how bad the rest are. That’s definitely something that I was always bitching about, like ‘Why are they making that instead of doing this?’, but that other option just doesn’t exist. You have to come in and do it yourself. They are very desperate and eager for new talent and new ideas and stuff and that’s something that really changed my perspective. My perspective before was that they were the enemy and they love to make these bad movies, but now I realize that nobody intends to make a bad movie. They need more filmmakers that are committed to the craft. You have to love your films and you have to love your film making. That’s how I approach my movies.”
Through all of the risks and potential disasters that a remake of Evil Dead could garner, the movie succeeds as a horror film. It speaks to audiences both old and new and is sure to stress the edges of seats in theaters everywhere.
Evil Dead is now playing in Philly-area theaters.