Reviewer's Rating: ★★★
Writer-director Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror classic, The Evil Dead, gets a worthy remake via the intensely taut Evil Dead. Minus the original’s “The,” Evil Dead revives Raimi’s sturdy, effectively spare source material for what likely will become a new horror classic.
With Raimi and original The Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell aboard as producers, Evil Dead returns to the cabin in the woods. It’s an isolated place where evil most horrible has happened before and, unbeknownst to the naïve young people who go to the cabin in the movie, is sure to surface again.
Evil Dead, helmed by first-time feature film director Fede Alvarez and co-written by Alvarez, Diablo Cody and Rodo Sayagues, features familiar elements from the Raimi original, but it also feels like a new nightmare.
In a misty, rainy, pristine forest setting, Evil Dead is also a beautifully crafted film. But before one stops to smell the lush greenery and fresh air, better to keep watch for lurking menaces most foul. This movie is pregnant with dread.
The Evil Dead reinvention includes classic horror ingredients that, decade after decade, continue to work. Multiple characters in the reworked Evil Dead fall into the same old traps. For instance, they really should know better than to open a blood-stained trap door.
Five young adult friends who’ve known each other since childhood drive in two vehicles to the cabin where Mia and her big brother, David, experienced happy times with their late mother. Mia’s friends and brother have a noble goal: helping her overcome the drug addiction that almost killed her.
Joining Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez) are David’s girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci). Olivia brings her nursing skills to the endeavor.
Harrowing as helping someone, especially a friend, overcome addiction is, the confident and controlling Olivia is way over her head. The bad decisions that she and the others make ensure their mission of mercy will go terribly awry.
The writers created a good hook via Mia’s addition. Olivia tells the others that the drug-craving Mia will say anything to get away from the cabin. For Mia’s own good, Olivia insists, she must be prevented from leaving.
“I am giving her the exact same treatment she would be receiving at a hospital,” Olivia argues.
“David,” Mia pleads with her brother, “you have to get me out of here.”
Of course, he doesn’t listen.
There is no fat in Evil Dead’s 90 minutes of running time. The filmmakers set the scene. Words that must not be spoken are spoken. The demon is unleashed. Not one to miss an opportunity to devour souls, this super-bad demon doesn’t miss a lick.
Evil Dead deftly adds flashes of horror-comedy into its demon-who-sadistically-delights-in-evil work scenario. The gruesome proceedings are not for the squeamish or even the not-so squeamish. And the friends’ living nightmare grows from bad to worse to more worse. By the time the last excruciatingly spilled blood drips, Evil Dead stakes its claim as a modern horror movie masterpiece.