review//EVIL DEAD

Grade: B+

EVIL DEAD
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore

Thanks to the guys at CHUD.com I got to attend a special screening of Evil Dead earlier this week. The Fede Alvarez remake of the Sam Raimi classic horror film is all things terrifying, gross out, and inappropriate...in all of the best ways possible.
The film touts itself (on the poster) as "the most terrifying film you'll ever see" and it almost lives up to that claim. Despite a few cheap moments, Alvarez and company have created a genuinely smart, horrifically violent thrill ride full of gallons of blood and irreverent dialogue.
The film follows Mia (Jane Levy, "Suburgatory") as she embarks on a weekend getaway with three friends and her brother, all in the hopes of her going cold turkey from her drug addiction. We see early on how things are going to go when she tells her brother (Shiloh Fernandez) to stay with her until the end and to not let her leave, no matter how bad it hits her. She throws her remaining stash down a well and the weekend of healing begins. Not even a few hours later and Mia is already having severe withdrawals and panic attacks. With some heavy coaching and encouraging, Mia makes it through her first spell and is seeming to make some positive strides.
The first glimpse of horror comes when the dog, Grandpa, uncovers a door in the floor that leads to a disgusting basement full of dead animals and satanic-looking materials, including a book of spells bound in human flesh. Once the seal on the book is broken by Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), all hell literally breaks loose. Mis is assaulted in the woods by some spirits. She comes staggering in to the living room (after being heavily sedated) and says, "You're all going to die tonight." And the omen begins to ring true. One after one terrible events start to occur until a crazy climax where it literally rains blood.
If you haven't seen Raimi's original 1980's cult classic, it's alright. This go-around is very different. Instead of the main character being a guy, we've got Mia. And, where Raimi's take was full of tongue-in-cheek humor, Evil Dead is nothing to laugh at.
Alvarez does a great job developing the story enough to give use some good backstory to build on. The relationship between Mia and her brother doesn't feel forced and the reason we're in the woods doesn't feel unnecessary.
The performances are inspired and most of the actors take their roles to heart. Elizabeth Blackmore's Natalie was the only character that seemed to lack any true depth. Levy, as Mia, is perfect as the troubled girl next door who succumbs to the horrible. It's a genuine shock when you see her say some of the things she's caused to say.
The true meat of the film is in the horror elements, especially the special effects. From boiling skin to needles going in the eye, plus a lot of stomach churning moments (I will never be able to use an X-acto knife the same way again), Evil Dead is a smorgasbord of bloody horrificness. You know it's a good horror film when the audience is genuinely squirming in their seats and audibly cheering at each small moment of victory.
As a horror film, Evil Dead never allows itself to fall victim to any unnecessary cheese. Sex and nudity is running rampant. There's actually a lack of romance throughout the entire thing. The story isn't meant to just appease the average moviegoer, but to illicit a smart, gory story of redemption and never giving up. As much as I moved around and closed my eyes, the journey felt worth it in the end.

Evil Dead opens tomorrow, April 5, in theaters everywhere.

Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

great review, scott. as per usual!

-josh williams

Scottie Knollin said...

thanks man!