Friday, July 26, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! You know your remake is in good hands when the creators of the original are involved and give it their Seal of Approval...and when Ashley J. Williams gives you a Seal of Approval, you know it's groovy!

Evil Dead (2013) – 4 out of 5

As hard as I try to be open minded with movies, I sometimes succumb to my knee-jerk, overly-emotional reaction to some of them. Usually this occurs with sequels (like why the holy jean short shorts do we need more Paranormal Activity or The Expendables movies?) but this happens more often with remakes and reboots. While I will always give in and give the film a shot, more often than not my first reaction is, “Why the fuck are they remaking that?” (Usually, while I stand with my hand out in front of me like I’m Jean-Luc Picard in that overdone meme—overdone meme? A bit of a redundant statement on my part there.)

I had that reaction when I first found out that rather than make another film following the adventures of S-mart’s best employee; Ash, Sam Raimi (the man who realized that the one thing missing from a Spider-man movie was having the hero cry for literally all three fucking films) decided to allow the movie to be remade. I was a little disappointed in this but not “let’s call some people ‘faggots’ on a message board” disappointed. Being skeptical, I patiently waited for the first trailer and I wasn’t too impressed when it arrived…until the Red Band extended trailer came out and I was falling all over myself to see it! It only helped matters when I went to see Ash himself; Bruce Campbell, at a Q&A and Army of Darkness screening in Milwaukee and he showed off the trailer and called anyone who complained about the remake to be a bunch of “whiny bitches.” At that point, I was more than sold and a little more than excited. Add to the fact that my girlfriend is a horror nerd; we went and saw it at the theaters and were MORE than pleased with the final product. So, needless to say, I was exploding with anticipation for it to arrive on Blu-Ray.

Raimi's only instruction for the remake:  Make sure to put my car in it.

Okay, enough with my B.S., it's time for the synopsis...

But first...fill in the blanks with what you think is going to happen next in this pic...
If you think she is going to create an ice sculpture, you are incredibly wrong.

Five friends decide to head out to a secluded cabin in the woods in order to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) detox from her drug addiction (FINALLY, a reason to be in a creepy cabin in the woods without the cliché “let’s go on a shitty vacation” excuse...which I think was invented by the original The Evil Dead). In the cabin, they find evidence of a satanic ritual and one of the friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), discovers the Book of the Dead. Despite the book being bound in human flesh and closed shut with the help of barbed wire, Eric thinks it to be a good idea to peruse the book like it’s Chicken Soup for the Soul. Eric unknowingly unleashes the unholy beasts from the underworld and it quickly possesses the weakest member of the group; the recovering Mia. Now the evil must kill each in the cabin in order to fulfill a dark prophecy and unleash hell upon the world.

I think I may use that cabin to help detox from my addiction to love.

Let’s face it, the original films from Sam Raimi and starring the man who is clearly a god only on loan for us from the other side; Bruce Campbell, are cult classics. I’ll admit it; I’m a huge fan of the films. Once Raimi hit his perfect formula in the second film and went for the wacky, odd, frightening and hilarious romp that the Evil Dead series ended up becoming known for, he made something that has proven to stand the test of time. Who knew all this would come about because he and the rest of the crew of the original failed at making a horror film?

In fairness, if you are wearing those pedo-glasses in 2013 in a horror film, you
are pretty much destined to die in a horrible way.

A friend of mine stated, after I shared the Red Band trailer, that the film would suck because it lacked the humorous edge we’ve come to know from Ash’s adventures against the Deadites. However, sometimes people forget that the original The Evil Dead was intended to be a serious horror film. Ultimately, Raimi failed at that (although the failure comes more from being green than anything else) but it was in that failure that we received gold.  Sure the movie is awesome and it is filled with gory fun stuff but as far as horror films go, it really wasn't that scary. This remake, helmed by Fede Alvarez, would become the golden idol that Raimi and the others were trying to achieve back in 1981. Amazingly, Alvarez succeeded where Raimi failed and made an amazingly unsettling horror film that looked incredible…but also simultaneously respected the source material by paying homage to it while maintaining a film that could easily be its own and not a remake.

Way to go, Evil Dead.   You made the concept of chaining a woman in the cellar
scary and deviant.

Ostensibly, this film is not only a partial reboot but also is meant to act as a continuation of the original mythology (keep watching after the credits, is what I’m saying). Watching Alvarez take on Evil Dead this fact isn’t really that surprising because he took the tone of the original film and amped it up to 11 while making it his own at the same time …he even kept in the tree rape sequence—which, I’m not sure is a good thing or not.  Alvarez did some amazing camera work that cranked up the fright factor, reminded us of Raimi's classic with some fantastic POV shots and also ushered in sights and views that were unlike anything we've seen in this franchise; for example, when Mia first becomes possessed by the evil is a sight to behold as it proves that horror films are more than just cheap scares but real, raw stuff meant to terrorize and torment. 

Not only did Alvarez respect the source material, he was also respectful to the fans as he made a movie that is nearly impossible for an Evil Dead/Ash fan to not like. He knew what they wanted in their horror films and gave it to them. Even more impressive is the fact that they knew they could never have another character like Ash or have an actor even come close to the iconic portrayal from the man with the golden chin.  They didn’t even bother with having a character named or even remotely resembling Ash (the denim shirt the character of David is sporting doesn't count as being remotely like Ash). I can respect a director who isn’t quick to shit all over the source material.

And speaking of shitting all over...this picture has nothing to do with that
but I've now put the thought in your head that the stuff on her face is poop.

Even more amazing is the fact Diablo Cody was brought in to help "Americanize" the dialogue in the script and did so without the characters talking like nobody fucking talks in real life!
The real heart of this film is the gore. The gore effects are incredibly realistic and amazing to see. A lot of the film’s most brutal moments are insanely difficult to sit through—but difficult to sit through in the way you want your horror films to be. In fact, the major selling point for me was watching the possessed character of Mia lick the box cutter and slice her tongue in half. After my third time sitting through the film, it’s still hard to watch—but that’s what makes it awesome! It’s so rare that gore effects are so good they make my skin crawl and physically turn me into a tween girl flailing her arms wildly and making me recoil in disgust.

Oh, sweet peanut butter and jelly crackers...don't lick that thing again.

The gore is only heightened by awesomely outrageous and spine-tingling sound added to the film’s audio track. Loud bangs to accentuate the slamming of the cellar door, blazing sirens blended into the background to make your skeleton tear its way out of your flesh to try and escape to safety, ear-drum withering screams, shrieks and splatter of blood create an orgy for the old ear holes and only help in making this film a terrifying experience to sit through and a remake that is just as good (maybe better if you ignore the lack of Ash) than the original.

Thankfully, I haven't reached a point in my life where "chainsawing a motherfucker
in the face" is the only option left to me for problem solving...but there's still time.

All these great points would be moot if the cast couldn’t do their job but, thankfully, they could. While the story may suffer at points with your typical horror film fluff like having some characters who don’t get much screen time, attention or development and are basically there to up the body count, the film still does a great job with the majority of the cast as each and every character has (for the most part) their essential part to play and do so incredibly well. Especially Jane Levy as Mia who has a character that is not only a drug addict in detox but also is a demon taking over her body and a reluctant hero that kinda becomes a female version of Ash…only she doesn’t get comically beat up enough.  While the rest of the cast are no slouches in their own accord, Levy just does a tremendous job that can barely be summed up in words.

I made the same face when I heard about Michael Bay producing the
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.

Evil Dead is more than just a reboot/remake/continuation of the iconic cult franchise. It is simply a really great horror film that is actually unsettling, disturbing and grotesque in ways that few horror flicks are able to accomplish in today's day and age. The original left an impact on the audience with the fact it was literally like no other horror film to date and this version from Alvarez successfully recreates that reaction with this 2013 version. Evil Dead is able to make the audience squirm (and me) as the gallons of blood splatter across the screen like the original did so many years ago. This movie is what a remake is suppose to be; a re-imagining of a cult classic brought forth to a new generation.

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