EVIL DEAD SXSW 2013 Review
When it comes to remakes, there’s a certain degree of skepticism that immediately arises from any hard core cinephile. The films and franchises that we’ve placed high upon a pedestal are there for a reason, so that they can’t be messed with. What’s lost in that train of thought is that the good memories of that film or franchise are what’s put on that pedestal. But movie studios? Oh, movie studios will stomp all over those precious memories like it’s a category in a talent show. That’s what a cynic says anyways. As a cinephile, it seems like you either appreciate the art, or you appreciate the film and the film only. The Evil Dead is one of those franchises that immediately brought out the skeptics in spades. How could anyone conceive of remaking such a beloved franchise? Well you get the originators, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, on board that’s how. Even though it became apparent that Sam and Bruce had signed off on first-time director Fede Alvarez, very few, if any were convinced that this movie would be good. By honoring the original film just enough, while keeping effects practical, and inserting a few small plot changes, EVIL DEAD is a more than worthy remake, it’s how remakes should be done.
With an opening much different from the original, Evil Dead opens with a lost girl in the woods. She’s kidnapped and it is revealed she is a deadite, but she is defeated by her father, and all seems to be well. Fast forward some time to present day where a group of friends are gathered at the isolated cabin in the woods to help one of them overcome an addiction to drugs. It isn’t long before a secret basement is discovered, and in that basement is a very unique book.
With the exception of the truly fantastic opening, the rest of it is pretty familiar territory. Where it begins to separate itself from just another remake to a really great horror film begins with the cast, namely, Jane Levy, who plays Mia. With a mixture of modern cgi effects, and old school practical effects, no one in the cast went through as much physical torture on set as Levy. Her transition into a deadite evolves quickly, and what her character goes through is truly sickening (in the best way possible), and she does it all while delivering a real knockout performance. She’s not the strong horror film heroine/part-time damsel in distress we’re used to seeing. She’s something different, and she handles it on screen with grace. Well, as much grace as you can have when you’re vomiting gallons of blood on a fellow co-star. With a lack of a singular “hero” like the beloved Ash, everyone gets equal moments to shine and no one drops the ball. The meticulousness and care that went into this remake shows in how great each member of the cast is.
So the big question for some will be how much it feels like the original. That’s a hard question to answer, because if you hear it from Bruce Campbell, if they had had money back in the ‘80s when they started, The Evil Dead might not have had the “charm” it did. For some, that low budget charm is what endeared them to this series. If you’re looking for that, you’ll be disappointed. Evil Dead ’13 is fun, but not campy. There isn’t a single moment throughout seeing it where you might think they saved a few bucks on a particular shot. Fede Alvarez swung for the fences on this one, and he hit home run. Not a grand slam mind you. You’re never going to reinvent the wheel with a movie like this, the best you can hope for is that it’s competently made, and isn’t filled with cheap jump scares. That is what Evil Dead delivers. This is a great horror film, one with a great cast, amazing practical effects, maximum effort that all shows up on screen. It does the original justice, and if you’re having reservations because you love the original so much, you can hold onto those feelings, because this is a different movie, but one that is 110% worthy of the title EVIL DEAD.
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