Review: Evil Dead (2013)

movie reviews

“The most terrifying film you will ever experience.”

For once, a tagline that doesn’t lie. This movie has been scaring me since I first heard about it entering pre-production two years ago. A remake of my favorite movie of all time? That’s some scary stuff.

I was lucky enough to land pre-screener passes for the movie a couple of weeks before it was released. I stood outside a theater in an enormous line of hopefuls for more than an hour, only to be ultimately turned away because the theater was at capacity. Rumor had it that some folks had camped out. That’s not an option for this guy over here; I have a job.

So, instead, as I related here a little while back, I saw The Last Exorcism Part 2: This Time It’s Personal. To add insult to injury, the trailer for Evil Dead was the first to hit the screen during the previews, in all of its demonic, knife-licking glory. I felt a pain inside and fought the urge to cry.

This weekend, it actually opened to the public. I made sure to buy my ticket early. Upon entering the theater, four employees stopped me, checking IDs (unfortunately, not mine) and ticket stubs. They told me there’d been a lot of underage kids trying to sneak in. The theater thought the movie was too graphic to treat this subversive viewing passively. I was intrigued.

When the film actually started, I started to sweat a bit. The film was crystal clear, nothing like the grainy awesomeness of Sam Raimi’s original. But then there was the Necronomicon. When the title hit the screen, I got chills.

The movie, in keeping with the original, had some absurdly good, non-CG gore effects. In fact, I’m willing to say that it’s the best gore I’ve ever experienced. It’s grisly and over-the-top. Fede Alvarez takes you places you just don’t want to go. Nail guns, shotguns, shards of glass, syringes. Never before have so few people experienced so much pain. The impulse to cover my eyes stayed with me until the end.

Contrary to what a lot of folks are saying, this isn’t a humorless movie. Comedy certainly doesn’t take the center stage as it did in the latter two films of the original trilogy, but it’s definitely there. You see it when a roll of duct tape is used to staunch bleeding, when one character is singled out for an inordinate amount of abuse, when a demon vomits in the mouth of a helpless nurse. This is all stuff straight out of Raimi’s catalog. Alvarez never forgets where this material came from.

To its credit, this film felt more like a sequel than a remake. There is no Ash, because, well, who could possibly play him? The nods to the original are plentiful, but not heavy-handed. I would have included more of them, but, then again, it’s not my movie. As it stands, it’s pretty much perfect.

I never dreamed that I would be able to say that.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Evil Dead (2013)

  1. It’s a relief to get such a positive review from a fan of the original franchise. I’m still nervous — not because it will scare the shit out of me (which I hope it does) — but because it will suck. Your review gives me hope. -Trudi (from Goodreads)

    1. Hey Trudi!

      If nothing else, it definitely doesn’t suck! The Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboots, I think, ruined significant horror remakes for everyone. This is a different beast entirely.

  2. Fine review Caris. It’s an okay movie if you want to have a bit of a good time, but that’s about it. Nothing really scary or terrifying here.

    1. Thank you! I agree that it wasn’t terribly scary, but, then again, that’s not what I watch the Evil Dead for. It captured the heart of the original, I think, and, as you say- it’s just a good time. But I love good times.

  3. Great review. Spot on. I have to say that Evil Dead was one of the best remakes (or re-imaginings) of any genre I have seen to date. I am anxiously looking forward to the DVD directors cut edition.

    1. Thanks! I hear that. I’d really like to see the movie with director commentary, too. Alvarez was out in my neck of the woods for one of the pre-screenings, but, alas, I didn’t get to see that one, either. I would love to know, shot by shot, how he made that movie.

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