Let me get this right out of the way--I loved the new Evil Dead. Part remake, part spiritual successor, co-writer and Director Fede Alvarez crafted a film that actually does justice to the iconic horror franchise.
In this incarnation, Suburgatory’s Jane Levy plays Mia, a troubled twenty-something who has traveled to her family’s old cabin in the woods to kick drugs cold turkey in one weekend. Among her support group are her estranged brother David, his girlfriend Natalie, and Mia and David’s two friends Eric and Olivia. Not long after they get there, Eric finds the fabled Naturon Demonto (Book of the Dead). Much like the original Evil Dead, when words from the book are spoken aloud, bad things start to happen.
When I say bad things, I mean really gory, nasty things. If there’s one area this movie can go toe to toe with the original on, it’s the blood and guts category. Not only are there plenty of nods to the original as well as Evil Dead 2, but there’s an homage to Lucio Fulci’s famous eye scenes, and the lesser known but still memorable lipstick scene from 1994’s Night of the Demons 2.
Where I think the movie shines however, is where Alvarez and company have put their own twist on the both the story and the lore of the original. The Necronomicon itself is more of a fleshed out book (no pun intended) this time around. The reason for the book being in the old cabin is better than the original, and it’s set up by a great opening sequence. Alvarez also made a great decision in not just copying the characters of the original, but creating amalgams that feature characteristics of those characters. That approach kept me, someone who’s seen the original trilogy hundreds of times, guessing until the end. There is no one ‘Ash’ character at the start of the film, but one emerges by the end. It’s a great character moment when it happens.
Ironically, if there's one place I think the movie falls short, its in the character department. None of the new cast members are anywhere near as charismatic as Bruce Campbell, and that lack of presence is noticeable. Jane Levy is certainly the best of the lot, but there is a lot of the movie where she’s out of the action, and no one really picks up the slack.
But, it just as well that the creators didn’t try to replace Bruce Campbell with a new Ash, as it’s pretty much impossible. And I feel comfortable saying that this is probably the best Evil Dead movie anyone could have made without Raimi directing and Campbell starring. heck, it might be better than they would have done.
Evil Dead is a great throwback to the horror movies I grew up watching, and I hope it sets a new bar for what horror audiences can expect. The only remake that even comes close to this one was Alexander Aja’s 2006 version of The Hills Have Eyes, and I think this movie tops it. You should absolutely go see this in the theater with some friends that really like horror flicks.
4.5 out of 5 When a Book Says Not to Read It, Don’t Read Its