With Evil Dead Fede Alvarez and company, along with producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, were on an uphill battle remaking/rebooting a cult classic and in some instances, it works but in many others, it came across as another horror movie amongst hundreds of others with higher production values.
Sony | R – 91 min. – $35.99 | July 16, 2013
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Writer(s): Sam Raimi (original motion picture); Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues (screenplay)
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Theatrical Release Date: April 5, 2013
Features: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
Disc Size: 32.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
Remakes and reboots are of course is not a new thing especially within the last decade as Hollywood continues to play it safe in the hopes name recognition will sell at the box office. Nothing is more true than in the horror genre with the likes of Friday the 13th (not terrible), Halloween (had its moments) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (horrible on all levels). However, the latest is Evil Dead but this time creator Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell at least had a hand in its development.
Evil Dead opens with a prologue as a young woman is captured, tied to a stake in a basement and has gasoline poured on her by her own father. She pleads for him to let her go but he refuses at which point we see her true self: a possessed demon. The father lights her up like a candle and we get some half-decent visual effects before getting the title card.
We next open at a remote cabin where friends have gathered for the weekend: David (SHILOH FERNANDEZ), his sister Mia (JANE LEVY), Eric (LOU TAYLOR PUCCI), Olivia (JESSICA LUCAS) and David’s girlfriend, Natalie (ELIZABETH BLACKMORE). They’ve come to this cabin to help Mia kick her drug habit. You also have some animosity between David and Eric for some reason I don’t care to remember but it had something to do with David moving away, leaving the others to deal with Mia’s addiction.
No cell phone service and only one road in and out. It’s the perfect setting for a demon to feast upon some dumb-ass fools.
The interior of the cabin is, at best, dingy so the friends try to sprucing it up and in exploration of the place, they discover the basement seen earlier with dead cats hanging from the ceiling and sitting on a table, a mysterious book wrapped with barbed wire. Eric, a high school history teacher, takes it upstairs and for whatever reason not only opens it up, but checks out the creepy drawings and blood-written warnings to stay away. But he continues on finding scratched out etchings and begins to read words which spoken together, awakens the demon which finds Mia who was outside wandering in the pouring rain as she goes through withdrawals.
And that’s the beginning of the chaos that will ensue our intrepid cabin dwellers, although apparently they’re not the brightest bulbs, David especially after a now possessed Mia shoots her own brother in the shoulder with a shotgun and in a “creepy” demonic voice, states they’re all going to die. And despite the evidence in front of him, David refuses to believe Mia is possessed and instead it’s the drugs behind it all. Yeah, there’s denial and then there’s plain old stupidity. By the same token, you already had the one character read from the Book of the Dead, so perhaps it’s infectious.
I have respect for co-writer/director Fede Alvarez and what he, alongside Sam Raimi, did to revitalize a popular cult classic, give it a 21st century spin while paying homage to the 1981 original. That being said, it may have been a little too much of a 21st century spin as it lacks any originality and kind of blurs with the hundreds of other horror movies that have come and gone, some which themselves were in deference to 1980s schlock horror mixed with comedy (see the Hatchet franchise). On the positive front, unlike the cheap horror movies, this one is slick featuring high-quality visual, practical and make-up effects.
In the end, Evil Dead is a middle-of-the-road kind of horror flick. The characters are at best goofy and at worst idiots to the extreme, but the performances are at least respectable with Jane Levy in particular being a highlight especially in the final act. Speaking as somebody who isn’t the biggest horror fan, though I do enjoy the classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, I didn’t find anything here of particular interest. I also don’t think the filmmakers were sure what kind of horror movie they were making. Is it campy fun like the original or taken (a bit too) seriously as has been done of late with the possession subgenre? Either way, the mix of tone didn’t help matters, but those who love the genre might get more out of it than I did…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
The release comes with a glossy slip cover. Inside the case is an UltraViolet Digital Copy download code.
Audio Commentary – Co-Writer/Director Fede Alvarez and Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues is joined by the three of the main cast including Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas. The track has plenty of participants making for a discussion on a wide range of topics and on-set anecdotes.
Directing the Dead (7:25; HD) – Fede Alvarez, and the cast/crew, talks about his approach to directing Evil Dead as we get some behind-the-scenes footage of the script read through and shooting on-set. It’s a short featurette but pretty interesting.
Evil Dead The Reboot (9:50; HD) goes into the cult status the original garnered especially from the young generation to making this reboot that would speak to the new viewers as well as fans of the original. It features interviews with producer Bruce Campbell and others.
Making Life Difficult (8:13; HD) – This featurette goes into the difficulties Alvarez, the cast and crew faced making the movie on a psychological level.
Unleashing the Evil Force (5:07; HD) covers the demonic elements of the film and this version of The Book of the Dead.
Being Mia (9:13; HD) – Actress Jane Levy discusses playing the main character. It’s pretty basic but you get to look at the day in the life of Levy during filming.
Previews – Olympus Has Fallen, Breakout, Magic Magic
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment unleashes Evil Dead onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition transfer. Not surprisingly, the picture looks really good with some excellent detail levels and even the darker shots, which there are plenty of, don’t show any signs of artifacting or other noticeable flaws. The colors look well balanced with spots that stand out in the darkness.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The disc comes equipped with a fantastic 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track showing off not only crisp and clear dialogue from the center channel but the blood-curdling screams one would expect from a horror film. But it’s not one-trick track as you get a wide range including the demonic voices, Roque Banos’ decent score comes through the front and rear channels and general ambient noises also help round out a good aural experience which really help get fans into the proper mood.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, with Evil Dead Fede Alvarez and company, along with producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, were on an uphill battle remaking/rebooting a cult classic and in some instances, it works but in many others, it came across as another horror movie amongst hundreds of others with higher production values. The Blu-ray released by Sony has some superficial featurettes but the highlight is a cast and director commentary which helps expand more on the behind-the-scenes stories.