(US - 2013)
Directed by Fede Alvarez. Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore. (R, 92 mins)
Producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell gave their seal of approval to this remake celebrating the 30th anniversary of their beloved cult horror classic THE EVIL DEAD (shown in its native Detroit and at film fests in 1981-82, but not released nationally until 1983). Uruguayan director/co-writer Fede Alvarez, making his feature debut, omits most of the humor from Raimi's original film, instead going for a relentless, full-throttle assault of blood, guts, gore, vomit, dismemberment, demonic possession, and all-out madness. It has a nice eerie vibe, and though it's rarely overtly scary (other than those of the quick, cheap, jump-scare variety), it's an undeniably enthusiastic '80s throwback horror outing with minimal CGI and countless gallons of wet, chunky, sloppy splatter, so if you're sick of cartoonish, digital gore and want to kick it old school, EVIL DEAD will satisfy on that point alone.
Knowing his limitations and that he can't top a classic and shouldn't embarrass himself and torpedo his career trying, Alvarez makes his EVIL DEAD its own film, but pays respectful tribute and a certain degree of allegiance to Raimi's film in the process. Some plot elements remain intact, and he replicates the famed fast-tracking shots through the woods. The major difference, other than the heroin addiction angle, is the significant toning down and near complete-removal of the comedic elements, which were there in Raimi's film but weren't really prevalent until 1987's EVIL DEAD II and 1993's ARMY OF DARKNESS. Adding to the effectiveness is the committed work of the cast, particularly Levy and Pucci, who gets some of the more crowd-pleasing moments and is the closest thing the film has to comic relief, but even his Eric is a little too shell-shocked to commit to being a smartass. Is EVIL DEAD 2013 a new genre classic? No, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do with its grisly excess and stretching the R-rating to its breaking point, and, provided it's in your wheelhouse, it's the probably the most enjoyably fun horror film to see with a big crowd since last year's Raimi-inspired deconstructionist gem THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.