Let’s get one thing out of the way before I start this review. If you are on the fence or have decided not to give the new Evil Dead a chance because you think it’s a cash grab, or disagree with the idea of an Evil Dead remake/reboot/sequel/whatever you want to believe this film is, then please, stop reading, make some arrangements with some friends, and go see the film, because you’re missing out on a great slice of horror in mainstream cinema, and that is not a phrase you hear very often.
This film is just fun, and I was very sceptical going into it. Being a horror nerd, the idea that the current era of adaptations, remakes and reboots spreading it’s cancerous fangs into my beloved Evil Dead was sickening. But, once I had seen a trailer and read some press surrounding it, I decided at the very least, getting to see some gore in the cinema would be a novelty, and gore I did see, but I’ll get to that in a moment. The film is just really satisfying, from a horror fan, and a film fan’s perspective. It feels like a Sam Raimi film, and it’s obvious that first time director Fede Alvarez is taking all the creative advice on board from Sam, Bruce and Robert, the original Evil Dead’s creative team. More importantly though, it feels like an Evil Dead film, and that is something truly tough to replicate.
The pacing is really solid, first half an hour sets a spooky scene, as the five young adults descend on the forsaken cabin, seen in the opening scene to be the site of a young girl’s gruesome fiery immolation, as a retreat for one of their number to detox off drugs. Of course, they swiftly find the site of the sacrifice, and the accompanying book of the dead, and the proverbial shit hit’s the fan. There is so much about this film that retains the charm of the original Evil Dead. The characters all have just enough back story and charm for you to believe in them, but not enough for you to trust whose going to live or die. The special effects and make-up look great, but are the right side of unrealistic so that there is an element of slapstick to everything, especially the gore.
And my GOD the gore. After the first half hour, that’s it. It’s just blood and gore followed by blood and gore. Not even tasteful, violent gore, just outright people getting blasted in the face with nail guns and people’s faces getting cut off gore. They really had fun with this one, just thinking of all the different ways the characters can suffer without it seeming like they were ever relying on any old tricks. This is a pure unadulterated blood-fest, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It made me feel really nostalgic for classic Troma films and the hey-day of horror, stuff like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, when guys like Wes Craven really took risks and had fun with the genre, and created stereo-types instead of adhering to them. Stuff like the Saw films and the Paranormal Activity really never even get close to this level of just film fun, and real enjoyment in mainstream horror.
The film isn’t perfect however, the scripting isn’t perfect, despite some classic one-liners and none of the cast gave stand out performances, but to me this just added to the charm, and proved to emulate the original even more than the film already was. This film is all about fun, and fun it was. Go see it. Screw your pre-conceptions and your ‘BUT THE ORIGINAL!!!’ and have some fun. It’s rare for us horror nerds to get such a chance.
Oh, and stay after the credits.