- Written By: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues, Diablo Cody
- Release Date: April 5th, 2013
- Directed By: Fede Alvarez
- Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Rarely has there a been a film series as beloved as Evil Dead. From Sam Raimi’s brash and energetic directing style to Bruce Campbell’s singular performance as Ash, few films have even dared to try and replicate that formula and, luckily for us, neither does the Evil Dead remake. Call it a sign of the times, but since the remake was announced over a year ago the internet has been flooded with rants and worries about what and how this remake would be handled. With both Raimi and Campbell around as producers the fans seemed to quiet but the proof, as always, would be in the pudding. Director and co-writer Fede Alvarez’s takes the themes and settings of the original and then blows the doors off everything else to create something that is both an homage and a tribute to the original series while remaining a film that can stand on its own.
Taking the original premise of five friends going to a cottage, Alvarez and his co-writer Rodo Sayagues (with some script polishing from Diablo Cody) situate the cause of this trip with Mia (Jane Levy), an addict now attempting to get clean. Her friends and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) agree that they won’t leave the cabin until Mia is clean. But the sneaky Book of the Dead finds its way into the hands of the academic of the group, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), who begins translating and saying the words within the book. While the demons come for Mia first, the rest of the group passes off her behavior as withdrawal symptoms… until its too late.
Alvarez has impressively managed to included several allusions to the original franchise without weighing it down. This new film clearly exists within the world of the other films and the allusions to time and setting are equally interesting. Evil Dead manages to explore new mythological elements of the original story while delivering an energetic and engrossing take on the films many of us grew up on. Where Raimi and Co. were always able to bring humor and absurdity to their story, Alvarez finds moments of levity but tackles the ideas of how we know ourselves and our own demons through this “cabin in the woods” story.
The characters are well defined and face their own tortures through the Book of the Dead which makes it a far more human story than the other entries. The cast is uniformly strong in their roles, but it is Jane Levy as the tortured Mia who delivers on the depth and humanity that Alvarez is banking on. She must face her literal and figurative demons throughout the film, and manages to deliver a believable and impressive performance.
Through all the stunts and gore, Evil Dead manages to find moments of real emotional weight which are dealt with swiftly but nevertheless felt. All these elements combine to create a singular and cohesive vision of the contemporary Evil Dead universe. One where our leading man isn’t quick with the jokes or and doesn’t make a descent into madness entertaining, instead this universe contains young people trying to make the best decisions for their friend who is suffering.
Alvarez has managed to stake a claim within the Evil Dead franchise. He has directed a film that is moody and deeply creepy, yet he understands where it comes from just as Raimi did, from real people pushed to extremes. Alvarez’s tone, however, is different since the characters start off in peril as their friend/sister might never overcome her addictions. Evil Dead shows us a new breed of monster. One that is perhaps lying dormant inside us all.