Evil Dead

Year: 2013
Studio: Tristar Pictures
Director: Fede Alvarez
Producer: Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi/Robert G. Tapert
Writer: Fede Alvarez/Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

Here's an interesting thing about this film versus the classic Sam Raimi original. Do we love Raimi's version because it's a great film? No, we love it because of its outrageous approach and unpolished, hammy, scrappy, film school vibe.

By contrast, Fede Alvarez' film is polished – at least more so than Raimi's was. It's gory, most of the horror effects are in-camera, and it even gives one of the protagonists a deeper back story than just random teenagers coming to a remote cabin to get picked off by a demon.

So here's the interesting thing. If this film had come first and years later someone made Raimi's version as an homage, most of us would brush it off as cheap rubbish hardly worthy of the name.

In this case, Mia (Jane Levy) is trying to get clean for the umpteenth time after stints in rehab that haven't worked, and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) feel like it's Mia's last chance.

When they explore the cabin, an old family property that hasn't been used in years (but curiously has the power and hot water connected despite being in the middle of nowhere), they find a room off the basement that's apparently been the site of animal sacrifices – complete with the corpses of animals still hanging from the ceiling.

They also find the Book of the Dead, which Eric becomes fascinated with, promptly calling up the demons from the forest by reading from it.

The proverbial wastes no time in hitting the fan, turning Mia into a snarling ghoul and giving the gang no other option but to lock her in the basement. Her drug recovery story gives the movie a neat new aspect where everyone else (including us) wonders whether she's just freaking out and incomprehensible thanks to the unforgiving withdrawal.

From there the good news is that the script doesn't wuss out because some exec wanted a PG rating, and it doesn't just contain scenes of horror, it contains scenes of genuinely Evil Dead -like horror.

One character slices her tongue in half down the middle with a rusty Stanley Knife. Another removes her own arm with an electric kitchen knife (you'll smile or laugh appreciatively in several scenes that reveal household implements you just know are going to be involved in blood splattered grotesqueries later on).

Part of the movie's strength is the use of practical effects. Like Zack Snyder when he remade Dawn of the Dead , Alvarez knew not only that in camera make-up effects simply look better on screen and suit the visceral experience of an Evil Dead movie, but that doing it all with CGI would (quite rightly) lead to a fan revolt.

It feels like a movie by people who loved the original and wanted to emulate its ethos while giving it a little more dimension, and the result is as good a classic horror remake as we've seen in the current craze of them.

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