Saturday, April 6, 2013

Evil Dead

The 2013 version of Evil Dead is a continuation of the franchise that started in 1981. Fede Alvarez has taken over the directing duties for the series from Sam Raimi and he also wrote the movie as well. This is a reboot of the series and is not a remake. The story still takes place within the same universe as the previous three movies and takes place 30 years after the events of the first film. It also improves on many of the aspects that were lacking from the first installment and we'll be getting to those in detail in just a minute.

Evil Dead tells the tale of five friends and their journey to rid one of them of a nasty addiction, there is also a book written in blood and made of human flesh that comes into play. We follow David, Eric, Mia, Olivia, and Natalie (put the first letters of the names together for a nice little Easter Egg) into the hills of Tennessee to help Mia kick her drug habit. Not everything is as cozy as it seems as the group quickly discovers that something terrible had happened in the basement of their cabin and come across a book encased in human flesh and barbwire. Eric being the scholar of the group decides to read from the book and he unknowingly unleashes a  demon that will stop at nothing to destroy and reap the souls of everyone in the group.

As a reboot and sequel, Evil Dead succeeds in every possible way. The story is more layered than the original, the acting is better, and the effects are out of this world thanks to the increased budget. I loved that Alvarez included the addiction storyline for Mia (Jane Levy), simply for the fact that it kept the group at the cabin even when things started to get a little squirrely. They were there to help her at all cost and that was really put to the test. The "Naturon Demonto" aka The Necronomicon is given more screen time and seems to have evolved over its adventures. There are more translations scribed into the book and it no longer has a human face as a cover. We find out why the book does what it does and the reasoning behind the demon possessing people which leads to some insight on the series as a whole.

The effects were spectacular and it was a relief to see a director willingly use practical effects over CGI effects. There are a few instances of CGI but it was due to the fact that the particular effects could not be achieved any other possible way. The gore was over the top but not to the point of being silly and Alvarez did a great job of walking that line. I can't wait to see how he handles the series over the next few sequels. Whoever was the makeup artist in this movie deserves a goddamn Oscar for all the crazy shit that they had to do. Demonic possession, burn effects, and dismemberment are only a few of the things that they had to make believable. The effects on the character of Eric alone are award worthy as he is just brutalized throughout the course of the movie with each beating he receives upping the ante of the last one.

The acting is a thousand times better than the original but you as the viewer have to keep in mind that you are not watching award winning caliber actors. All of the performances are solid and there are definitely times where the dialogue is weak but that is mainly limited to the beginning of the movie when we are being introduced to all of the characters. You have to keep in mind that half of the cast is pretty much expendable and primarily serve as cannon fodder for the demon. Jane Levy (Mia) and Lou Taylor Pucci (Eric) give great performances and it is going to be great seeing Levy anchor the series for year to come, hopefully. Levy has to switch from possession mode to her regular self at a moments notice and her character's journey is definitely a horrific one to say the least.

For all of you haters out there saying that this movie isn't close to the original, keep these comments in mind. The original cast, excluding Bruce Campbell, was fucking horrible. Overacting and limited emotion ruled a good chunk of that movie. The effects were low quality even by B-movie standards and the new movie blows them away. The story in the reboot is more layered and complex whereas the original was a bare bones concept. Also keep in mind that this is a sequel and not a remake, so no one is trying to replace the original. The story in this movie takes place 30 years after the original, which is stated plainly in the introduction of the movie. There are similarities between the original and this version, which is also explained in the movie if you bother to pay attention. I love the original and it will always be near and dear to my heart but even I can't deny that Evil Dead is just a flat-out better movie in almost every way.

This is the perfect reintroduction of the Evil Dead franchise to the masses. It takes what made the first film great and turns everything up to 11. With two sequels on the way and a crossover with Ash looming on the horizon, I can only hope that Fede Alvarez is allowed to be in the driver's seat for the whole journey. This is not a movie that you should see, it is a movie that you MUST see.

Order of Greatness in the Evil Dead Series
1. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
2. Evil Dead
3. Army of Darkness
4. The Evil Dead