Evil Dead (2013)
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
In today’s cinema landscape, horror remakes are roughly a dime a dozen. Most of which aren’t worth your time at best and insulting to the original at worst. So whenever a decent one comes along, it’s a reminder that there isn’t a reason that these remakes have to be bad and Evil Dead is a solid, albeit run-of-the-mill addition to this pseudo-subgenre.
What helps this film is that it doesn’t try to tell the same exact story that the original did. Granted, it is essentially the same story: a group of kids go into the woods, get possessed, and die horrible deaths. There is an enormous shift in tone, however, which essentially makes this a completely different story.
I’m struggling, however, on whether or not I welcome this shift in tone. On the positive, as I said, it feels like it does its own thing with the same source material. On the other hand, the over-the-top, campy nature of the original is what made it such a classic. Admittedly, I do miss the campy tone of the original in this new version; it’s the one thing that separated that film from any other cabin-in-the-woods movie of that era. Though the tonal shift left a little to be desired, there are some things worth admiring about this revamp.
This version of the film features an entire new set of young people. David returns to his deceased mother’s cabin to meet with friends he left behind as well as his younger sister, Mia. A raucous reunion it is not; Mia has been on a downward spiral since her mother’s passing and is trying to kick a drug habit cold turkey. Everyone is gathered to make sure she makes it through the weekend without falling back into bad habits.
While I don’t entirely buy the drama between David and his friends, I think the detox scenario is an inspired way of getting the group into the cabin and keeping them there longer than they should. The scenario is chaotic to begin with and it’s hard to tell whether Mia’s claims of visions are real or just a byproduct of he withdrawals. It’s an interesting additional wrinkle to the situation, though realistically, some of the characters hold out hope that it’s all withdrawal symptoms a bit too long.
One of the main problems with these sorts of films is that there always seems to be a lack of motivation from the characters to remove themselves from the situation; basically, why the hell don’t they just leave? Without revealing too much, let’s just say an attempt is made, but the only road away from the cabin is out of service. They are trapped, so think of another snarky question, smartass.
The biggest takeaway from this film is the performance of actress Jane Levy. I’ve never seen Suburgatory, but this film makes me want to seek out the rest of her work. She plays Mia and it is a spectacular performance. As Mia, Levy has to play every side of the coin: addict, little sister, paranoid victim, demon girl, survivor. While each of the other actors and actresses have to play stock characters, Levy’s performance is quite something to behold. Thinking back to other performances in other horror remakes, I think back to the golden opportunity Rooney Mara had with A Nightmare on Elm Street that she let slip through her fingers (though, she later made up for it in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Here, Levy gives a captivatingly thorough performance and is someone to watch out for.
There are buckets of blood to behold in the film, so the gore hounds should be satiated and while iconic moments, for the most part, are intact from the original, it doesn’t make this film much better than your average horror flick.