Back in the early 80’s, the VHS revolution was underway and the monsterkid inside me was cutting his teeth on some classic titles of the modern era as much as he could. One movie that I wanted to see really badly was Sam Raimi’s 1981 gore classic Evil Dead. When the video store clerk finally let me rent it, even though I was under age (15), I happily trotted home to get ready for the onslaught to come. Needless to say I was not disappointed in any way and Evil Dead became an instant favorite. I have followed the franchise with dedicated gusto but always felt let down with Evil Dead 2 and somewhat with Army of Darkness. Two good films but just lacking the energy of the original and filled with more slapstick comedy than blood soaked carnage. When I heard of the remake that was to be released this year, I held my breath and thought “well here goes another franchise down the drain”. I had the chance to view this reboot of Raimi’s classic over the weekend and I must admit…..I was pleasantly surprised! If you have not seen this reboot yet, you may want to stop reading this review because there are spoilers ahead.
Evil Dead opens with a little bit of a backstory concerning a young girl who is wandering through the woods. She is abducted by some rough looking rednecks and wakes up in a tiny room tied to a post. We discover that a cleansing ritual is about to take place. The girl discovers her father is part of what is going on and pleads with him to stop. When he doesn’t bend to her pleads, she reveals the possessed side of her soul. An old hag commands her father to continue the ritual to cleanse her soul and he pours gasoline over his daughter as she spews obscenities at him. She is set on fire and as the flames consume her flesh her father finishes her off with a shotgun blast. Quite the opening scene which prepares you for what you are getting into.
|The cabin.....so inviting.|
In the not so distant future we are introduced to our main characters. David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) are on their way to an old cabin in the woods to meet his sister Mia (Jane Levy) and their friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas). Mia is trying to quite her herion addiction and the group is meeting there to help Mia through her ordeal. She is attempting to quit cold turkey. The cabin is an old family spot that Mia and David had spent many a vacation. They discover that at some point the cabin had been broken into but they decide to clean the place enough to make it livable for the weekend.
|The demonic entity introduces itself to Mia|
|The vines are alive!|
Mia’s friends find her and take her back to the cabin. All hell now begins to break loose as Mia begins to act strangely. She still tries to warn her brother to leave but he has made a vow to stay with her until the end of her ordeal. Mia scalds herself with incredibly hot water from the shower and David tries to take her to the hospital. They are halted by the washed out road from the swelling river. After they return to the cabin Mia is given a sedative by Olivia (A trained nurse) so she can sleep. Mia however is not affected and presents herself to the group with the shotgun they found in the cellar. She shoots her brother in the arm and in a furious windstorm screams at everyone that they will all die tonight. Mia attacks Olivia, spewing bloody vomit all over and into her mouth. In the struggle Mia falls into the open cellar. Mia goes into the bathroom to get more sedatives and while inside becomes possessed by the evil force that has been unleashed. Eric checks in on her and she attacks him with a shard of broken glass from the mirror. Eric bashes her head in with a piece of sink that had broken off during the struggle. David and Natalie take Eric outside and tend to his wounds in the shed. Natalie goes back into the cabin and hears Mia in the cellar calling her name. In a moment where Mia doesn’t look or act possessed, Natalie ventures down to help her. Mia of course turns back into her possessed self and bites Natalie on the hand. Natalie escapes but her hand becomes possessed by the evil that has infected her. As the infection crawls up her arm, Natalie regains her mind and cuts her arm off with an electric knife.
|One of many moments of terror in Evil Dead|
Meanwhile Eric tells David of all that he has read in the book and that five souls must be taken by the demon so that it may enter into their world. The demon has possessed Mia to try and accomplish this and the only way to save Mia and get rid of the demon is to burn her, bury her alive or dismember her. Eric tries to burn the book thinking that if it is destroyed the evil will die with it but the book proves to not be affected by fire. Natalie emerges from the kitchen and begins to attack David and Eric with a nail gun. David is able to shoot Natalie with the shotgun before she is able to kill Eric. David decides to burn down the cabin but before going through with the plan changes his mind. David gets together several syringes plus some other items including a car battery charger and enters into the cellar to get Mia.
He is attacked by the possessed Mia but is saved by Eric who is receives a fatal stab wound to the stomach. David takes Mia outside and begins to bury her alive. Once Mia is dead, David revives her with a make shift defibrillator constructed out of the battery charger. Mia is revived and the possession has left her. David and her decide to leave and while David is in the cabin retrieving the car keys he is attacked by a now possessed Eric. David gives Mia the keys, tells her to leave and locks her out of the cabin. David then sets fire to the cabin, destroying himself and Eric.
|Ready to battle evil.....Ash style!|
Outside the cabin it begins to rain blood. It seems that even though Mia was revived it wasn’t enough to stop the demon from materializing in psychical form. The demon emerges from the blood soaked ground and chases Mia into the shed. Mia is able to escape and takes a chainsaw with her. As the demon chases her outside, it flips over the jeep pinning Mia’s arm underneath. As the demon closes in on her, Mia is able to tear her hand from the beneath jeep leaving a bloody stump. Mia kills the demon with the chainsaw, in perhaps one of the bloodiest scenes I have ever seen and successfully killing the demon. The body of the demon sinks back into the ground and Mia walks away. The last shot of the film is of the ancient book lying on the ground as it closes itself.
|The demonic reveal....not as cool as the original.|
The possession scene in which Mia declares the death of all in the cabin couldn’t quite compare to the original visage of Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) floating in the room asking “Why have you awakened us from our ancient slumber?” I will give credit that they did use some of the audio from the original during Mia’s scene. It was kind of like background voices and added an interesting element plus a bit of nostalgia.
|"We're going to reboot you!"|
The blood….oooooh the amounts of blood used in this reboot! After digesting this movie over the past 12+ hours, I still say this is the bloodiest and probably goriest movie I’ve seen in a very, very long time. There were several “gross out” effects but what got to me more were the “sucking in air through clenched teeth” moments! Those seemed to stick with me more than the “money shot” effects. The raining blood (cue Slayer track here) was excellent and added to the grue that accompanied it in the final reel. According to Alvarez there is not one single piece of CGI effects work in this film. If that is true then the effects team gets a standing ovation from me because there were several shots that I still haven’t figured out how they pulled off. To my naked eye I would say that there had to have been at least one or two CGI effects but I am going to take the director for his word. I am pretty sure there will be some great extras on the DVD release.
My recommendation is to go ahead and spend the money on seeing this in the theater. I am glad that I did and I wasn’t disappointed in the least! You should also stay during the end credits there are some nods to the original that are pretty cool.