You are all going to see Evil Dead tonight
If Evil Dead had lowered its pretentious tagline to something a little less ambitious, such as “the most terrifying film you will experience that came out in the early 2010s”, it might not be at all inaccurate.
In the wake of horrific failures such as Sinister and The Last Exorcism Part II, Evil Dead will feel like clouds parting way to reveal a beautiful heaven to horror movie fans. (Or the ground opening to reveal a fiery Hell; whichever fanatics prefer.) Considered the fourth installment of the Evil Dead franchise (though ‘remake’ would more accurately describe it), director Fede Alvarez and director of the original trilogy Sam Raimi plan to team up and reboot the series. A sequel is already in the works. In the eternal words of Bruce Campbell, “Groovy.”
Speaking of Bruce, this installment marks the passing of the torch from him to the series’ new lead Jane Levy, who plays wretched drug addict Mia. Levy stars in the criminally underrated comedy Suburgatory, a show I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch the same way ever again. Not after seeing how thoroughly Levy slips into her demon’d up character. She was fantastic.
The film’s plot covers pretty much all of your basic horror movie clichés, but it gets a pass, seeing as it’s a remake of the movie that created those clichés in the first place. Mia is taken to a dilapidated Cabin in the Woods by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three other low IQ friends to isolate her from negative influences. In the dimly lit basement accessible only through a trapdoor in the living room floor initially concealed by a carpet, David stumbles upon the Natorum Demonto, a book that if opened and read aloud will summon evil spirits of the wood to awake from their supernatural slumber and feast on the living.
So of course that happens, and soon the five buffoons are one by one possessed by the golden eyed, rancid-fleshed, sexually outspoken demons of the forest. The only thing the demons love more than clichés is gore, of which there is a lot. Manually decapitating a limb seems to be the knee-jerk reaction to any given situation for these kids.
What keeps the film from being useless from being just another useless addition to the horror genre and warrants a remake of the once-dead franchise is we actually care about these characters going through the motions of a typical horror movie. (At least the main two.) Updating the script with earnest backstories and clever plot twists was the smartest decision made with the revamp. Out of everything that splatters across the screen, genuine character development is perhaps the most shocking.
The film was notably shot with limited CGI in respect to the original, which means all living trees and nail gunfights were filmed raw. The film looks fantastic, and proves that, in an era where films are dependent on CGI, make up artists and set designers can still carry a film.
With a sequel reportedly on the way and a continuation of the original trilogy planned by Raimi and Alvarez, it looks like Evil Dead will live on. (I can’t be the only one who hopes Levy’s arc doesn’t follow the classics’ bizarre genre shift and time jump story, right?) Bruce Campbell and Jane Levy revving up chainsaws and hacking zombies to pieces side-by-side sounds good to me.
Oh, and hopefully fans of the original stuck around after the credits rolled. It has the objective best post-credit scene ever created.