HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Evil Dead
HTS Overall Score:85
I have to start off by saying that not only am I a big horror film fan, but I’m also a HUGE fan of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” series. From the straight and true horror film that started it all to his much campier take on the deadites in “The Army of Darkness,” I roll with the tone changes and the sheer force of nature that is Bruce Campbell in these flicks. Now years and years later, Sam Raimi and Bruce are back together again, but this time they’re out of the spotlight and mold this new chapter in the “Evil Dead” franchise from the producer's chair, and give Fede Alvarez a take at the source material. While Fede might be the director, this new film was under the constant scrutiny and control of the dynamic duo the whole time, and the film shows that loving touch to detail that only the creators of the franchise can bring. I was a little nervous about the latest entry without Bruce or Sam helming it, but I had faith that this wouldn’t be a total flop due to their producing input. Luckily for us, Fede Alvarez has given us a fresh new take on the original horrifying invasion of the deadites while still keeping along the spirit of the original film.
“The Evil Dead” is essentially a very simple film, set with minimal characters in a single location. Four friends have banded together to help out Mia (Jane Levy) a struggling drug addict, to go out into the woods for a weekend and help give her a cold turkey detox from her addiction. Along with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and David’s girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), Mia travels to a remote cabin deep in the woods for her little recovery session. Once arriving there, everything is normal, Mia starts detoxing and the four friends are in for a bumpy ride as Mia goes from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. At the same time, the young adventurers discover a hidden cellar under the cabin which houses the remains of several sacrificed animals as well as a strange book, wrapped in flesh and inked in blood (wink wink nudge nudge) along with a mysterious area tinged with fire. Eric, the ever curious historian, opens up the book and starts to read, unfortunately for them, he recites an ancient passage that may come back to haunt them. In a fit of withdrawal symptoms, Mia steals David’s car and races off down the road wanting to get home. Veering off the road and crashing the car she starts to see things before she’s rescued.
Once back at the Cabin, Mia starts to change, almost seeming out of her mind she starts to do things that frighten the group. Eric, seeing the same things in the book that he unearthed realizes what’s happening. In his over confidence, he has unleashed the evil spirit that the bound book was meant to defeat by reciting that ancient incantation. As Mia collapses, she starts to infect other members of the cabin and the rest of the friends realizes that they need to find some way to vanquish this evil and save Mia from succumbing completely to the undead if they possibly can.
Now, with a reboot/remake we always have expectations (many the times over the top) and wants for the film to fulfill in order to be satisfied. Over time, I’ve realized that tempering these expectations gives way for a much more satisfactory viewing experience. After viewing this version of “The Evil Dead” twice, I’ve come to the conclusion that Fede Alvarez and crew have done a fantastic job at creating a new story while sticking to the original heart of the first film. This is much more dark and serious than the later installations that Sam Raimi helmed, and shows what modern special effects and technology can do to enhance that. I really enjoyed the fact that 90% of the special effects were all practical effects instead of turning the film into a giant CGI fest. There is, of course, some CGI, but it’s used minimally and only to cover up the “seams” so to speak, of the practical effects. Gore wise, this one is truly a Sam Raimi film on steroids. Raimi loved his use of over the top gore back in the 70's and 80's and this film is amped up to the extreme. I’m a seasoned horror veteran, and my buddies and I were wincing quite a few times throughout the film. While the gore was fast and furious, there was this little bit of “over the topness” that kept it balanced out so that the gore and blood didn't feel wildly unnecessary like so many horror films fall victim to.
The acting is really where it pulls the film down from a 5 star rating. The actors here are decent and do the job well, but there is just something missing, the sheer charisma that Bruce Campbell infused into a schlocky old horror film elevated the original “Evil Dead” from just plain fun to a cult classic. Here that charisma is not as prevalent. All of the young actors do a solid job, but they come across as just scared kids instead of the larger than life characters that really endear you to them. A weakness to be sure, but one that isn't horribly detrimental for a bloody good time.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12093[/img]Again, this is a new release Sony studios title - need I say more? Ok, I guess I will. As per the usual Sony gives us a near flawless transfer. The film carries a nice teal and lightly green hue to the film, with some slightly blown contrasts levels to give it a rather eerie and surreal feel. Colors are rich and bright when necessary with a cornucopia of blues, greens and blacks and yellows. The detail level for such a surreal looking picture is par excel ante. The forest shots are alive with all sorts of detail, from the individual leaves floating across the forest floor to the close up shots of Eric’s scraggly beard and the blood dripping down Mia’s face. Contrasts are sometimes boosted a bit, but only just slightly to give a more surreal look to the film and facial tones are spot on. Shadow detail is ridiculously good, especially for such a dark film. Black crush is nonexistent to my eyes and digital imperfections are nowhere to be seen (including such nasty enemies of movies such as Halos, macroblocking and aliasing).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12094[/img]As with the fantastic video scores, Sony has graced us with another fantastic audio track. Sony’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is full and rich from beginning to end. From the rumbling of tires on the ground to the crash of a door thudding shut the LFE is just rippling underneath, giving a nice low end to the film and making us jump straight out of our seats when needed with a power house assault of bass. The dialogue is clean and smooth, locked to the center channel and well balanced. Mia can drop to a dead whisper and the dialogue is 100% understandable and then switch to the full wail of the deadites a moment later and still not over power the viewer. Surrounds are used beautifully to create a truly creepy ambience. The creaking of floorboards, the whispering of spirits in the wind and the howling of the forest all suck the viewer into the center of a true horror film. All I can say is, well done Sony.
• Making Life Difficult
• Directing the Dead
• Being Mia
• Cast and Film maker commentary
• Unleashing the Evil Force
• "Evil Dead" the Reboot
With a slightly new twist to an old franchise, Fede Alvarez has given viewers a very solid horror movie out of a genre that just teems with mediocrity. “The Evil Dead” may not gain the cult status of the original, but it is truly a fun, bloody horror film that is sure to delight horror hounds everywhere. Mix in the fact that Sony has given us some truly impressive audio and visual delight to go along with the fairly solid set of special features and I don’t think any horror fan can NOT pick this one up. Some people who are only mildly interested in horror films may need to be warned that this is NOT a film for the squeamish. Overall, it’s a very good film with some nods to a truly great original trilogy. I give it a thumbs up.
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 16th, 2013
Buy The Evil Dead Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
More about Mike