Movie Review: Evil Dead

Evil Dead Cast Photo
Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Shiloh Fernandez, Jane Levy and Elizabeth Blackmore in 'Evil Dead' - Photo by Kirsty Griffin/ ©2012 Evil Dead LLC.

Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty

“Mia, what are you doing? Put down the gun!,” says David (Shiloh Fernandez) to his sister who should be passed out in her room after being given sedatives to help her sleep. “You’re all going to die tonight,” replies Mia (Jane Levy) in a disturbing voice because she has been possessed by an evil demon in the remake, re-tooling of the cult horror/comedy classic Evil Dead.
 
Determined to get his kid sister off drugs, David joins Mia, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) in his family’s old remote cabin in the woods to help when Mia goes cold turkey and goes through withdrawal. While dealing with Mia’s shouting and being sick, the group discovers in the basement of the cabin a Book of the Dead along with the remains of a black magic ritual from some earlier time. Eric, unlike the rest of the group, quickly becomes obsessed with the book and begins to decipher and read out loud parts of it – despite many handwritten bold writings in the book warning potential readers to “LEAVE THIS BOOK ALONE!”
 
Meanwhile Mia, not being able to handle her severe withdrawal, escapes the cabin, runs outside, and drives quickly away. However, only minutes later she swerves when an evil looking woman appears in the middle of the road, causing her to crash the car. Struggling to make her way back to the cabin, Mia is attacked by some trees which have been possessed by evil spirits and is taken over by the demonic women she saw on the road. When David and the rest of the group find Mia they take her back to the cabin and debate if they should take her back home or stick it out in the woods, believing she’s only suffering from withdrawal. But when Mia comes out of her room, points a shotgun at David, says in a demonic voice they’re all going to die, and shoots David in the shoulder, Eric is the first to begin to suspect his reading from the Book of the Dead has released evil forces upon Mia and the rest of them.

Jane Levy in Evil Dead
Jane Levy stars in 'Evil Dead' - Photo©2012 TriStar Pictures, Inc.
Evil Dead the remake is an over-the-top gorefest of a horror film which, while staying true to the original 1981 cult classic, does not improve on it or even match it.
The script is similar to the original but has much weaker dialogue, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional except for Mia who suffers both from withdrawal and being possessed. Jane Levy is very effective as Mia, the troubled, moody and at times terrified girl desperate to reconnect to her brother and later escape the horrors of the woods. Levy is also quite good as the possessed Mia, looking creepy, scary and acting demonic. She’s the only one in the cast whose performance is worth seeing.
 
The special effects and make-up are solid but nothing any moviegoer hasn’t seen before and better in films such as The Ring, The Grudge and the original Evil Dead. The camera work and direction is almost identical to the original film with once again zero improvement.
 
The two most important elements missing in this re-boot are the outrageous humor which was in the original film and added a brief sense of fun and relief from the gory, bloody scenes, and the character ‘Ash Williams’ played wonderfully by Bruce Campbell. Ash was a funny, smart-aleck character the audience closely connected to and rooted for to beat the demon in the 1981 version and that is sadly lacking here in the remake. Not one of the characters has any wit or a winning personality.
 
Evil Dead 2013 is an unneeded and unnecessary remake, especially with the original film and its two superior sequels available on DVD and soon hopefully on Blu-ray.
 
GRADE C-
 
Evil Dead opens in theaters on April 5, 2013 and is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
 

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