‘We’re going to get you.. not another peep.’ You could almost deem this the beckoning call for Hollywood filmmakers everywhere, who remain relentless in perfecting a formula to breathe new life into bonafide classics of the horror genre. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween being mere examples, reimaginings have been unleashed onto the younger generation that whilst slick in presentation, have failed to last long in the memory with their distinctly average nature. 32 years on from Sam Raimi’s original ‘video nasty’ that made a cult hero out of Bruce Campbell, Fede Alvarez’s new version arrives with fans still recovering from the suitably grim red-band trailers.
Sticking the proverbial ‘two fingers’ up to cynics adamant this classic premise can no longer cut it after Joss Whedon’s emphatic deconstruction via ‘The Cabin In The Woods’, Jane Levy’s troubled Mia heads up a fresh faced group of friends as they head for a remote cabin, that’s far from aesthetically pleasing. With her supportive brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) for company, the film slyly attempts to justify the decadent setting as Mia deems the trip the ideal opportunity for her to overcome a reoccuring drug problem. Conveniently enough, they have a trained nurse in their midst in the event of another OD (Jessica Lucas’ Olivia)
As they patrol their new surroundings, they soon stumble across the obligatory antagonist for such terror. Fittingly titled ‘Book Of The Dead’, a traumatic ordeal suffered by Mia coincides with its disturbing illustrations being realised. Adamant the group are in grave danger, Mia’s disintegrating state of mind is immediately mistaken for paranoia through withdrawal from her addiction. Cue a barrage of dismemberments, possession and grim use of sharp weaponry as battle commences to survive..
With its demented tongue in cheek humour ever present in Raimi’s original trilogy, Alvarez’s 2013 version is surprisingly near devoid in this department. Attempting to follow suit with the genre’s recent trends, he substitutes the playful for the gruesome as the cringeworthy yet effective set-pieces pile up. Unfortunately, its frantic approach to horrify its audience with various self mutilations comes at the cost of creating a sense of sheer terror, which the film rarely threatens to conjure up. Thankfully, Alvarez redeems himself by remaining faithful to the visceral visual aesthetic, favouring the old school style of practical effects instead of succumbing to CGI.
With Campbell’s iconic Ash dominating the series before now, ‘Evil Dead’ was inevitably going to struggle with crafting memorable characters. Crippled by the classic illogical mindset, Fernandez’s David and Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric in particular provide unintentional hilarity. The standout performance here is Jane Levy’s Mia whose character thrives on a fleshed out backstory. Unnerving with her twitchy nature and breathy tone as she becomes increasingly anxious, she is a refreshing antidote to the stick thin, naive females that regularly saturate such fare.
‘The most terrifying film you will ever experience?’ Not quite. Heavily reliant on fitting nods to its predecessors and shock value, Alvarez’s version is as blunt in shedding the cliche’s as it is incisive in its execution of bloodsoaked carnage. In comparison with its fellow genre remakes however, ‘Evil Dead’ is a significant step in the right direction.