Rating: 3 stars out of 5
If you're squeamish over the more intense scenes in ‘The Walking Dead’, you might want to stay away from this one. This clever yet faithful remake remixes the elements of the cult classic ‘Evil Dead’ film, retaining the gore-coated covering.
New director Feda Alvarez, who got the job after making a great CG short, doesn't quite have the humour or punch of Sam Raimi, but he does make references to the original without being slavishly tied to it.
Five 20-somethings head to a remote cabin. But rather than indulge in sex and alcohol, the group look to help one of them, Mia (Jane Levy), get off drugs. They stumble on a flesh-bound book in the basement and accidentally unleash a long dead witch that possesses Mia. They're gradually and bloodily torn apart by malevolent spirits.
The film's biggest problem is the lack of interesting characters. There's Mia's brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), and the rest of the group appears to be there in order to become victims for the evil thingie that's been unleashed. The actors are more fodder rather than characters, and one of them, Eric the schoolteacher, will probably be remembered for the amount of damage he took more than anything else.
The murders and dismemberments are brutal, ranging from the conventional such as knives and shotguns, to the more esoteric, such as nail guns and yes, even a chainsaw. The carnage is played with a fairly straight face, and Alvarez doesn't quite give us the humour of the later films in the ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy. After Joss Whedon's revisionist ‘Cabin in the Woods’, the setup in ‘Evil Dead’ just appears to be one of the alternate scenarios of Whedon's film.
Alvarez fails in the humour department, and it might have helped with a bit more camp. If there are laughs, they might be found in the over-the-top gore. The self-mutilations, eviscerations, and buckets of blood are so outlandish, they're hard to take seriously, as is the victim's ability to keep on functioning after losing what looks like a bathtub's worth of blood.
For a first time director, Alvarez does manage to execute well. The mutilations and kills are gory, and there was definitely much cringing and screaming during the preview. As a horror film, ‘Evil Dead’ stands on its own. Alvarez has a clear love for the source, but is smart enough to make some changes as well as to take advantage of his sizeable budget. It's gross-out gore, and you'll leave the cinema checking to see if you're covered in blood and guts as well.