Evil Dead: A Gorefest for Horror Lovers

By Sandra Olmsted

In director Fede Alvarez’s remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic, Mia (Jane Levy), a heroin addict, David (Shiloh Fernandez), her brother, and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), his new girlfriend, get the big idea to seclude themselves and a couple friends in a cabin in the woods so that Mia can kick her habit cold turkey.  Since Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is a nurse and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) an academic, it seems they’ve made an intelligent plan.

When Mia starts acting strange, they are prepared to help her kick the smack and survive the withdrawal, but don’t expect her to smack them around with intent to kill. Of course, they don’t think  — at least not soon enough anyway — that Mia’s odd behavior could have had anything to do with Eric reading incantations from a book clearly labeled with do-not-repeat warnings.

As Mia’s possession deepens, the gore increases, and the kids start hurting themselves in some horrifying ways. Even though the men suffer terrible injuries, the women are mostly the victims of these gruesome attacks and self-inflicted violence. Besides the usual, and many, slasher film scenes of nail-gun shots penetrating bodies, dismemberment, stabbings, etc., a woman is raped by a possessed vine, and another woman slices her own tongue in two.

Although the women in this slasher film are also stronger than their genre predecessors and put up a good fight against the demons invading the cabin and their bodies, those who are not fans of the genre will be put off by the copiousness of the gore and violence, especially against women.

Alvarez and his co-writer Rodo Sayagues provide few lighter moments to break the tension, but fans of Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981) will be amused by some of the allusions to the original horror classic. The script and the cinematography evoke images and ideas from the original, such as a camera speeding through the woods to imply the coming of a demon and inserts of significant weapons.

Given that these characters are not very well developed and that the characters in slasher films are never terribly bright, it’s surprising that a couple of the performances are worth mentioning.  Levy makes the most of the melodramatic part of Mia, and Pucci has good screen presence despite being under used.  Fernandez, Blackmore, and Lucas do a respectable job with roles that amount to little more than body counts.

Since its 1981 release, writer/director Raimi’s low budget The Evil Dead has become a cult classic and influenced a generation of filmmakers because of Raimi’s imagination and ingenuity in creating the effects and keeping the production on track. Now Alvarez, a newcomer, takes the helm of the franchise, and he seems to have the blessing of Raimi, Rob Tapert, an executive producer on the original, and Bruce Campbell, who starred as Ash in it, because they serve as producers for this new version. Alvarez also returns to the uses of mechanical effects, such as prosthetics and stage blood, which gives the gore a tangibleness that digital effects don’t have.

Surprisingly, the film is only rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language. Presented by TriStar Pictures, Evil Dead, a Sony Pictures Entertainment release, runs 91 minutes and is in theaters now.

More of Olmsted’s reviews can be found at www.thecinematicskinny.com.

 



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