This was the first movie I've seen in theaters since Django Unhcained in January, back when I was still living in Texas, that I was looking forward to. The Evil Dead franchise has always been one of my favorites. It's also been one of the more bizarre movie trilogy's of all time. Morphing from pure B-movie horror, to campy b-movie horror, while ending in straight fantasy. Sam Raimi crafted a series along side Bruce Campbell which has garnered one of the biggest cult followings of all time. But in this day and age everything seems to need to be remade. Nine times out of ten the remakes bland, horrible or uninspired. But Evil Dead, Evil Dead got it right.
Evil Dead opens with an injured, staggering girl in the woods being captured. She wakes up tied to a post in a room full of people. The girl's father is about to light her on fire, to which the girl pleads otherwise. Eventually she reveals she's possessed, is lit on fire and shot in the head by her father. Years later a group of friends; Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Mia (Jane Levy), Mia's brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), are meeting up at an old cabin in the woods. They are meeting here to help Mia stop using drugs, as she has overdosed to the point of clinical death. When they first go inside the cabin, Mia begins to complain about a "stench of death" that no one else notices. They discover a door to the cellar hidden under a rug. In the basement they find animal corpses hanging from the ceiling, a shotgun and the Naturom Demonto aka The Necronomicon, The Book of the Dead. Eric begins to read the pages aloud, despite the numerous warnings written in the book. He ends up casting a demon that begins to haunt Mia. Mia begins to plead with everyone to leave, but they dismiss it as withdrawal symptoms. Mia then steals one of the cars to try and escape, but crashes it in the woods. Mia sees the demon as she crawls out of the wreck and runs into the woods, where the demon possess her. Mia begins to to torture the member's of the group, and tells them in a demonic voice that they will not survive the night. It becomes a mad dash for survival as this group experiences the supernatural as they never dreamed possible.
This is definitely the best horror movie so far this year. Fede Alvares, with the help of Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, all three men who worked in the original The Evil Dead, created one of the best remakes in recent memory. But this is not without flaws. What I liked about the original is that there was no "back story" about another person possessed by the book. That we came in on the kids heading up for a relaxing weekend at the cabin. There's didn't need to be an example to start the movie, cause we would end up seeing it during the movie itself. The book explains it all without having to see what happened to someone else with the same possession. Also I found myself not caring about anyone aside from Eric, David and of course, Mia. I mean for God's sake did it even matter that David's girlfriend Natalie was in here at all. I love gore as much as the next guy, and this is chop full of it, but adding in another useless body, on top of a couple other ones, really irked me. The acting, by everyone outside of Lou Taylor Pucci, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jane Levy, was pretty sub-par too. I failed to care about Jessica Lucas (Oliva), the med student that knew it all, and it annoyed me that she was the pseudo leader cause of her knowledge. Also I'm pretty sure Elizabeth Blackmore (Natalie) was only in here as another body to be mutilated, as she has upwards of a few minutes of dialogue at best. Plus, like I said, I felt the whole opening was unneeded. Not bad in the least, but just felt out of place to me.
On the flip side, the great in this movie was pretty great. Jane Levy gives a good performance a Mia. Between her being possessed and her non possessed side, it was nice thing to be reminded throughout that Mia was still in there, despite being possessed. Confused? I used possessed to much there didn't I? Moving on. Lou Taylor Pucci and Shiloh Fernandez we're solid and really filled in when Mia, or demon Mia, wasn't on screen. The acting by these three were good enough to carry the movie. The story was pretty great as well. It kept the tone and style of the first movie, yet modernized it in a sense and gave the characters some back-story. I wasn't a huge fan of the close of the movie, but overall it was good nonetheless. First time writers for a major movie in Fede Alvares, who also was a good director, and Rodo Sayagues, did a solid job with the screenplay. If you've ever seen the original Sam Raimi trilogy, and if you haven't you should invest a Saturday and do so, you'll know it's all about over the top gore. Whether it's blood pouring out of the walls or vomiting liters of blood on someone, the gore in the Evil Dead series is one of its staples. There is no shortage of this in this either. From limbs being cut off and tongues being sliced in half, to a girl cutting her face off and raining blood. The over the top, gore, death and scares are well done and a perfect homage to what Sam Raimi did back in the the 80s. While the scares are pretty formulaic, jump scares accompanied with loud music, the innovation and gore is done well. This is probably the closest you're gonna get to a good SAW-esque type of movie since The Collector franchise, as great as the first one is, already seems to be running downhill.
Evil Dead is the best horror film of the year so far. You could go into never seeing the original trilogy and come away satisfied. This is a big testament to Fede Alvares' writing and directing. He appreciates what Raimi did, yet crafts this and made it his own. The story was good and the gore was over the top and great. While the acting may be lacking it's not hugely needed in a movie like this. Though Jane Levy did a great job throughout as Mia. If you're a fan of Sam Raimi's trilogy you'll like this I think. As I said above if you've never seen the trilogy I think you'll like this as a stand alone horror movie. Evil Dead may not live up to the hype, but it's still a pretty great horror flick.