Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Evil Dead



8.5 out of 10 | Movie or DVD

Rated: R Strong bloody violence and gore, and some sexual content and language
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 31 minutes

Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers:  Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, Rodo Sayagues, based on the original screenplay by Sam Raimi
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, Phoenix Connolly, Jim McLarty, Randel Wilson

SYNOPSIS:  Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.

REVIEW: Writer/Director Fede Alvarez made a name for himself for the viral Panic Attack! short he created in 2009. After that film, he quickly became a hot prospect. Taking a meeting with Sam Raimi about turning his short film into a feature film, Fede started throwing out ideas about remaking Raimi's Evil Dead. After all the rumors and waiting, Alvarez, his Panic Attacks! writing partner 
Rodo Sayagues, and Diablo Cody (Young Adult) adapted Sami Raimi's original 1981 screenplay into a more modern tale of terror. Give the fans some sugar, baby!

A group of friends and family descend on a cabin in the woods, all on the property to help MMia (Jane Levy, Fun Size) go cold turkey from her drug addiction. Joining her are her absentee brother David (Shiloh Fernandez, Red Riding Hood), Dave's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore, Burning Man), and two of her longtime friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci, Carriers). The first is a registered nurse there to provide the same withdrawal meds as a hospital would. And the other is a high school teacher. When Mia starts to go through withdrawals and insists that she smells something rank in the house, the group discovers that dead things occupy the cellar, along with a shotgun and a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire. When Eric becomes interested in the book, he unwittingly reads aloud the incantation that summons a demonic entity. The book says that the demon must collect the souls of five people in order to make the clouds open up with blood and let the demon rise from the ground in its stolen form. One by one, members of the group starts to become possessed, each host fulfilling his or her brutal part of the ritual. Only the cleansing of the original host can possibly save humanity from darkness. Are any or all of these young adults up for the task?

Back in the late 70s director Sam Raimi walked out into the middle of the Michigan woods for a four year shoot for the eventual call classic with Bruce Campbell that would be The Evil Dead. Anyone who grew up in that era will surely tell you that they were scared crapless by that film. In fact, the film was such a cult hit that it prompted Raimi and Bruce Campbell to return to the woods for a quasi-sequel where Campbell's Ash confronts the same demons spawned from the Necronomicon. More campy then the first film, The Evil Dead 2 spawned a different sensation, raising Bruce Campbell to cult status. And then to top it off, they returned again for the third The Evil Dead installment, Army of Darkness, that, while not a financial success, took Campbell to a legendary status in the genre community. But that was decades ago and, like all horror properties, The Evil Dead had been remade.

Some horror remakes are disastrous and horrible and some shine even brighter than the originals. A wonderful example of a successful reboot is the Michael Bay produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre film and it's prequel that stayed faithful to the originals while updating the mythos for a new generation of horror fans. With the Evil Dead remake Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell return in producer rolls, handing over the reins of directing, writing and acting to a new breed.

Jane Leavy from ABC's Suburgatory and the recent Fun Size spreads her wings as the heroine of the film and the first to be possessed. The premises changes from five friends just looking to have a good time to the central character trying to kick her drug habit in a remote location. Levy is near brilliant as Mia, playing a range of characters - the victim, the possessed, and possibly eventual hero - with equal talent. With only five central characters the chemistry the group has to work. Shiloh Fernandez, who plays Mia's brother David, Jessica Lucas' Olivia, Elizabeth Blackmore's Natalie, and scene stealer Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric keep the tone creepy while making fun of the whole ridiculous mess along the way.

For better or worse, this remake can boast that it made itself work without keeping Ash in the mix. In spite of that, fans of the original trilogy will bask in the nods to the first two franchise films. Even the prologue is reminiscent of a few Ash snatches of dialogue. This remake has quite a bit to offer up for the horror fans. Cheeks will be sliced open, people would be chained down in the cellar, arms will be hacked off - and one unfortunate victim will suffer through an indignity at the hands of the forest. Even with a modern more dramatic spin, the 2013 Evil Dead still has a little edge of campyness to it. Intentional or not, situations sometimes become so intense that they end up being ridiculous. This remake is more brutal than the originals while remaining faithful to the originals, but still possessing today's post-millennial sensibilities.

The problem with today's post-millennial sensibility for horror films is that everyone has seen so much on YouTube, in the news, and with other films like Saw and Hostel, that there really is too much to sensitization to what a horror film can successfully offer. As brutal and twisted as this remake is it may actually pale in comparison to the impact that the first two films had on its audiences. The aforementioned is a sad statement, but it seems to be a reality of the escalation of brutality, gore, and debauchery in horror on the big screen.

The directors and writers came up with a cool prologue sequence that explains why the book exist and what it means. There are even some cool Bruce Campbell Ash lines of dialogue for those who wish that Ash was still in the picture. Gone is the tape recorder session notes from an unknown owner of the Necronomicon - but the Professor Knowby voice (Bob Dorian 
from the original "The Evil Dead") from the original film does make an appearance at the end credits.

The Evil Dead franchise has waited a long time for a new film. Whether a continuation with Bruce Campbell or a complete reimagining of the original, some may like the new direction and others will complain that they want Campbell's Ash back. Either way, this return to the woods is groovy, baby!

Note: Stay till the end of the credits for a little Easter egg for the fans.

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