The wait is over Deadites – April 5th is finally here. For some it’s been a grueling wait, sitting anxiously as every blood-soaked image and awe-inspiring trailer teased what could possibly be a savior of the current remake fad, while others sat grumpily, scoffing at even the notion that Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead could top what’s revered as one of the most famous cult-classics in horror history. If you read any of my news coverage or features regarding the film, you’d know I was one of the outspoken optimists who had no problem hiding his blatant excitement for everything Alvarez was laying down, so now the question is posed – was all the hype worth it?
Before I jump into my spiel, you all know Evil Dead isn’t supposed to be funny, right? No, not all do, because I’ve read a slew of uneducated reviews stating how unhappy critics were Fede Alvarez didn’t follow Raimi’s original “comedic tone.” You know why he didn’t? Because that was Evil Dead II. Raimi’s original was down and dirty serious horror, only seeming funny to some people at times because of the extremely low budget. It wasn’t until Evil Dead II that Raimi embraced a more light-hearted and jokey script, then finally running with the idea in Army Of Darkness. Those of you complaining Evil Dead was too serious – go back to Horror 101 and actually research your “beloved genre” before completely losing credibility by posting a review without any real prior knowledge on the subject. Alvarez made the film Sam Raimi intended to make, only Fede was given the appropriate budget.
With that said, my post-film tweet pretty much describes my feelings on Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead pretty accurately:
Just @evildead-gasmed all over the three rows in front of me as the credits started. Pure. Horror. Gold. I want to see it again. Right now.
— Matt Donato (@DoNatoBomb) April 5, 2013
I won’t say it’s perfect, I won’t say it surpassed what Raimi created, but I will say “Holy f#ck, did that just happen?”
Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead completely lived up to some serious expectations, and I think I’m a pretty critical person when it comes to horror, but looking back on all the reasons I was so excited to see a brand new visit to our iconic cabin in the woods, every single bullet point was validated though craftsmanship and ingenious visual stage-setting which created an entirely more horrifying experience than I expected.
As far as the cast goes, hats off to each performer in terms of quality, but Jane Levy deserves much, much more praise for portraying Mia. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know Mia as the creepy girl who tells everyone “You’re all going to die tonight” and then pops her head out of the basement so she can sing her creepily invading lullaby, and when I say she surpassed that already dominant horror performance tenfold, you have to believe me. Someone please invent a Best Actress horror award and give this girl a statue, because it’s not easy to become as emotionally dead and blankly reactive as she does in her demonic form – and without her performance, Evil Dead would have lost some serious bite.
Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore all get in the satanic spirit for Fede Alvarez, and all put forth the best efforts professionally, but no one can touch what Jane Levy did. I’m talking in the film, I’m talking this month, and I’m even talking this year – as far a horror is concerned.
With that said though, the script that Alvarez, Diablo Cody, and Rodo Sayagues finally agreed on was still left with a hole or two. I believe a solid attempt was made to ground events that include living trees and possessed friends, but the situation almost forces itself onto viewers in order to keep Mia and the rest trapped in the cabin. I’ll admit, intelligent horror fans may be a little distraught considering some of the more feeble plot points and story-pushers, making this year’s Evil Dead undeniably inferior to Raimi’s original screenplay.
But for what Alvarez lacked in scripted material, he made up for in spades concerning scares, thrills, chills, special effects, pacing, and overall visual insanity. I stand by my statement that if Sam Raimi was given the proper budget and technological advances Fede Alvarez utilized on his Evil Dead, the product would have come out eerily similar.
Sure, while Alvarez established the story leading all our characters to the cabin, it’s not exactly the most gripping material, but even then Evil Dead sports a quippy tongue-in-cheek vibe just by the cheesy lines characters spurt like “Cross my heart, hope to die!” Oh I get it! Because they’re not going to…yes, we know, shit is about to get real – but the atmosphere Alvarez sets up plays to this kind of campy material. It fits.
But once that damn Necronomicon is opened, that prayer is muttered, and we get that first view of the “forest-eye camera” hurdling through the foliage – it’s nothing but non-stop horror chaos which will get a nice stream dribbling down your leg while you clench the arms of your seat – or the arms of whoever happens to be next to you. Evil Dead is full-throttle adrenaline-bumping horror action that grabs you by the balls, vomits in your face, and slaps you around like the bitch you are. Seriously, as any true horror fan, I loved being absolutely manhandled by Alvarez’s film and emasculated by pure white-knuckled terror, and then so disgusted by the slimy film of bodily fluids, blood, entrails, and natural grime, I actually contemplated taking a shower when I returned home.
All the practical effects work, the 50,000 gallons of blood sprayed in one day, the evil Deadite makeup -wait, have I really not mentioned the Deadites yet?! Wow, this review is going to be longer than I expected, because Alvarez’s Deadites were pants-soiling scary. I mentioned Mia, but looking at the other characters turned possessed vessels, each one brought insurmountable amounts of terror while twitching around the cabin in their last gasps of life. Kudos to the team of artists who created these creatures of evil, because the shot of Mia popping her head out of the closed basement will be haunting my dreams for weeks to come.
Hell, can we at least just take a minute to recognize that Alvarez is the first director in a while to create a horror remake that DOESN’T suck?! Taking solace in that respect, I couldn’t be happier with the way his film turned out. Oh wait, yes I can, because this is just the start of something MUCH bigger.
There’s no doubt in my mind that both die-hard original fans and bucking young viewers entering the Evil Dead franchise for the first time will experience the same enjoyment of Fede Alvarez’s knock-out first film, which is a visceral cornucopia of revolting pleasures that gorehounds will howl in excitement over.
Legitimate respect is paid to the source material in the way of nostalgic nods, expected prop cameos, and a true reconstruction of Raimi’s material (all be it structurally inferior), but Alvarez spins his own twisted take on the Evil Dead franchise that has started something truly noteworthy.
Oh, and make sure to stick around for the credits, because to quote the legendary horror icon that started this franchise, there’s some additional “groovy” content.
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Fede Alvarez loudly proclaims "THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK" and delivers a horror remake which defies the Gods by almost challenging the quality of Evil Dead itself - keyword, almost.