Film Review: Evil Dead


The Evil Dead—modern horror from the ’80s—gets a bloody update, a backstory, and retains a sense of humor. The Evil Dead—modern horror from the ’80s—gets a bloody update, a backstory, and retains a sense of humor.

Gory resurrection

If you see only one bodily dismemberment movie this year, see Evil Dead. If you see only one demon resurrection movie this year, see Evil Dead.

Whew! Those opening sentences are a stretch, kind of like Evil Dead itself. It’s two-thirds of a great horror movie. Even though it loses steam during the finale, it’s a wild, goofy, impossibly bloody ride.

For those unfamiliar with The Evil Dead, director Sam Raimi’s original gore classic —yes, that Sam Raimi, the guy who directed Oz the Great and Powerful—this faithful but original remake by director Fede Alvarez may seem like just another splatter-fest. For those of us who just may be considered fanboys of Raimi’s horror oeuvre, it’s been a long wait for this new version.

Bad news: Evil Dead isn’t great. It’s not particularly original—it is, after all, a remake, and Raimi’s movie doesn’t have an original story, either. The Evil Dead, the original, does have innovative visual ideas and genuine scares. This update shares that spirit, even if in this day and age every horror trope has been covered in every horror movie.

Still, it’s fun. Evil Dead opens with a backstory, something that doesn’t happen in Raimi’s original. And this backstory isn’t much, just the idea that all this evil has gone down before.

Enter David and his girlfriend—I can’t remember her name; let’s call her Gonna-Lose-My-Limbs (Elizabeth Blackmore). Just remember David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his sister, Mia (Jane Levy). There are some other friends, including a guy who looks like he’s on the road to becoming a sensitive college professor, and a female friend, who’s a registered nurse.

They’ve all gathered at the cabin—it belonged to Mia and David’s mother at some point—so Mia can kick heroin cold turkey with their support. Then the long-haired professor-type and David find a basement full of dead cats (Mia thought she smelled rotting flesh), along with a book bound in human skin and inked in human blood. And, of course, the college professor-type begins reading passages and oh shit, demons.

Mia is possessed and begins doing horrible things, such as burning herself with scalding hot water and firing a shotgun at her brother. The friends dump her in the basement as her eyes glaze over and turn yellow, but not before she’s projectile-vomited all over the nurse’s face. So, you know, the nurse is a goner.

How does it all end? Covered in blood, duh. The special effects are truly impressive. The movie has a sense of humor (which Raimi’s sequels, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness certainly do), but it’s more interested in employing scare tactics and gore, and there’s plenty of gore, via electric carving knife, chunk-of-porcelain, chainsaw, and nail gun. Groovy.

Much like some fans of The Shining think there are hidden messages in it, I wonder whether Evil Dead fans will determine the entire movie is just a heroin withdrawal dream that takes place in Mia’s head.

Another debate for another time. Pass the gore, please.


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Evil Dead/R, 91 minutes/Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX


Playing this week:

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Carmike Cinema 6

Regal Downtown Mall
Cinema 6

Regal Stonefield 14
and IMAX

Vinegar Hill Theatre

Jane Levy stars as Mia.

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