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Evil Dead Poster

Evil Dead

Genre: Horror

Director: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: April 5th 2013

There are some remakes that attempt to replicate the lure of the original for a new audience without adding to it or making the film stand out on its own. The new Evil Dead is not one of those films. This is a movie that rachets up the violence and the gore (yes, for sale there will be blood) and will ultimately leave horror films pleased but a bit disappointed that this film isn’t as scary as it is brutally violent.

After a short prelude at its beginning, the film focuses on five youngsters visiting an old cabin in the woods. As they arrive, the only character that stands out is Mia (Jane Levy), a young woman with personal demons of her own. She vows to stop using drugs early on but the other characters note that she’s made such a promise before with limited results. This time will be different, she says.

She’s joined in the cabin by her naïve brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), the clueless Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), the stubborn Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and the forgettable—at times, I forgot she was in the movie– Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Each of these stereotypical characters have a specific duty to carry out when an evil is unleashed in the woods. Eric is the fool who, upon finding a book in the basement that says “Do not read this. Seriously.” eventually reads the incantation that sets an evil force loose. Olivia is the one who– when Mia becomes possessed– believes that she’s just suffering the effects of not using drugs anymore. She notes that a hospital would treat Mia’s “illness” in the same way that she is.

It is characters like her who were born to be in a horror movie.

As the story continues, the demon possesses Mia and strange things begin to happen around the cabin causing more carnage and bloodshed than you can believe can fit into a ninety-one minute movie.

Fans of Cabin in the Woods— and many other cinematic horror shows that preceded it—will immediately recognize the contours of the story. Clueless young people. Seemingly-abandoned cabin. An evil demon in the woods.

Where Evil Dead stands out is in its unrelenting focus on bloodshed and violence. Some of the scenes are admittedly scary and the tension is quite real but the story puts violence and gruesome death scenes above everything else. For horror films, it succeeds in bringing the story to life and will likely be one of the few quality horror films of the year (a low bar, admittedly).

Of course there are times when the blood and guts pouring off the screen in nearly every scene seems over-the-top and the ending of the film drags on for a long time. But for fans who love old school over-the-top violent films of youngsters fighting against a demon that walks among them, this is a story that won’t be easily topped. Director Fede Alvarez (who wrote the screenplay with Diablo Cody) throws so much mayhem and material onto the screen that it’s difficult to blame him for holding anything back. Here he has created a classic tale that won’t appeal to everyone (the easily-quesy should steer clear) but will appeal to fans of gruesome horror flicks who like a good scare every once in a while.

Review by: John Hanlon