'Evil Dead' Strips Away The Camp, Leaving Nothing But Terror

By James Jay Edwards
Released: April 5, 2013
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In the much anticipated remake of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.
Film Review
When a remake of The Evil Dead was first announced, a collective groan escaped the lips of fans everywhere of the original 1981 film. The Evil Dead is considered sacred in the horror culture, and the thought of rebooting it would be sacrilege, kind of like redoing Jaws or Alien. Then, original film director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell and producer Rob Tapert came onboard as producers, and people started getting curious. The first tense and gory trailers were released, and audiences began to get excited. Now it is here.

The setup of Evil Dead is similar to the original; five young people drive to a secluded cabin in the woods. However, the reason they are there is different. One of them, Mia (Jane Levy from "Suburgatory"), is a drug addict and has come to the house to detox and, hopefully, kick her habit. Accompanying Mia to the cabin is her brother, David (Red Riding Hood's Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore from "Legend of the Seeker"), as well as two other friends: a nurse named Olivia (Cloverfield's Jessica Lucas) and a tagalong named Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci from Carriers). They find a gruesome scene in the basement of the cabin - the remnants of a witch-cleansing ceremony, including such artifacts as dead cats, a shotgun and shells...and a book bound in human skin. Despite the warnings that are written all over it, Eric reads a portion of the book that awakens a mysterious, deadly force. The force takes control of Mia, making her violently ill and unstable, but the others just think that her behavior is simply due to withdrawal symptoms. Only when events start occurring that echo things that Eric finds in the book do the kids start thinking that something's not right - but by then it's too late. The carnage has begun, and the only question left is "who will survive the night?"

Evil Dead is the first film from director Fede Alvarez. The screenplay was written by Alvarez and his writing partner, Rodo Sayagues, with script revisions done by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer's Body). The premise of the original film is still there, but that's where the similarities end. The approach taken is similar to that of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; it's close enough so that it's recognizable as a remake but, in reality, is a completely different movie. The camp and silliness of the original are gone, and what's left is pure terror.

And, make no mistake, the new Evil Dead is terrifying. Just as The Evil Dead epitomized eighties splatter films, the new Evil Dead typifies the new breed of bloody, graphic horror films. After last year's The Cabin in the Woods, it seemed like the kids in the cabin trope was ruined forever. Evil Dead takes it back. It obeys the conventions of the modern horror film, yet still manages to be a fresh take on the subject. There is not a hint of winking or nudging in this film; it's unapologetic about its use of stereotypes, and it does it all like it was there first. Fans of the first film will recognize some of the camera work and a few of the scenes (think trees and cellars), but make no mistake; this is not your father's Evil Dead.
Special Effects
One of the biggest issues that horror fans have with remakes and reboots is with the increasing reliance on computer generated effects. Evil Dead has none. The visual effects are all done practically, with Fede Alvarez and his team using a combination of classic horror makeup effects and old magic illusions to achieve their goal. The results are astounding, as the film includes nail guns, machetes, straight razors, and electric carving knives, just to name a few of the deadly and disfiguring implements. Despite the absence of CGI, Evil Dead does not have a throwback, slasher look or feel to it. The graphic blood and gore gives the film more of a torture porn vibe along the lines of the Hostel and Saw franchises. The scenes of dismemberment are intense and disgusting, but they aren't overly gratuitous; they just feel real. Fede Alvarez should be both applauded for the decision to use practical effects and celebrated for the way that he has pulled it off in Evil Dead.
Scary Factor
The promotional posters for Evil Dead tout it as "the most terrifying film you will ever experience." While there is obviously some hyperbole to that claim, the film does put its money where its mouth is - it's pretty scary. There are surprisingly few cheap jump scares. Evil Dead doesn't need them. The fear that is inspired by the film is a combination of seat-shifting discomfort and flat-out look-over-your-shoulder paranoia. The film has a skillful buildup of suspense, and that perfectly paced step-by-step anticipation is nothing less than horrifying. The film also contains very graphic depictions of violence to keep the viewer squirming and writhing, not unlike the gore that is prevalent in the films of Eli Roth or Takashi Miike. Like a car crash, Evil Dead is terrifying to watch, yet even harder to not watch.

Horror, Thriller
Release Date
April 5, 2013
Production Designer
Music Score