Production: Directed by Fede Alvarez, produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tapert (director, main actor and producer of the Evil Dead franchise). The film can be viewed as a remake, reboot and continuation of the franchise.
Cast: Not Bruce Campbell, just accept that he’s not in it, otherwise you’ll never enjoy the film. Hey! Did you know, the names of the main characters (David, Eric, Mia, Olivia, Natalie) form an acrostic spelling of the word Demon? How about that.
Plot: For all intents and purposes, this is a ‘group of Americans in a cabin’ movie. But it happens to be the Evil Dead experience! These friends go for a cabin retreat in order to help one member, Mia, beat her drug addiction and get clean. They find some occult objects in the cabin cellar. When unnatural happenings occur, two things compel them to stay: They have no intention of failing to get Mia clean again, and it’s raining so hard the road is out – they can’t leave.
Thoughts on the film :
• This Evil Dead remake was generally panned by movie-goers, and unjustly so. Don’t take Bruce Campbell not being there out on this film! It’s possible people believed the tagline of “the most terrifying movie you’ll ever see” and was disappointed when it wasn’t. Also worth noting we had 3 films many decades ago with Ash, and this is a fresh crop of people.
• The film flows like a slasher flick, as a deadly force terrorises and picks off members of the group one by one.
• As with most slashers, the cast is largely unmemorable. They dress very plainly, and they do have a hippie douche, so it well could be the 70s (so it looks like the original), even though it’s present day. A small point, but I took umbrage that it was the calm nurse that took the lead in treating the wounded and not the ‘scatterbrain’ doctor. Best of luck getting a nurse to suture! There’s some super-dodgy resuscitation but I’ll go with it.
• The unveiling of the Necronomicon is pretty cool. The gravity given to opening the book was great. The images inside have an archaic style, and sometimes herald what type of death is coming next (e.g. burning, multilation etc); a great way to anticipate the next nasty gore spot. There’s a bit where the image is a victim cutting their own face off, and soon afterwards, in the dark, you hear a girl furiously cutting at something with a small knife. Awesome.
• Getting the Evil Dead spirit into the house & the possession/torture happened pretty quickly. Some iconic references (like the thorn bush) I expected to happen later in the film. That said, the pace is kept up, things happen quite quickly so there’s little down time.
• There is some really wonderfully gratuitous gore and prosthetic disfigurements. Some of it is over the top, but any horror fan should love what they’ve done. Funnily enough, there were more people wincing at the stunts (eg hitting your back off the toilet) rather than breaking of bones and all that. Some of the coolest parts are seen in the Red Band trailer, that are not as impactful in the movie since you’ve seen it already.
• I appreciate there was no cheap “BANG! SHOCK!” horror bits. They pre-empt any shock contrivances (eg reflection in the mirror, nothing’s there, something’s there!) so you know it’s coming, and don’t go for the loud-noise scares.
• I was hoping to hear “Klaatu barada nikto” and “dead by dawn” but it never came, so that was a little disappointing.
• There is little to no CG, the gore is all practical effects, and it’s really wonderful. It gives it so much more realism – a weight and unreplicable real-world physics, something that’d be very lame in CG. So good stuff!
• They drop a few plot points that are easy to remember, and I like how they were used later in the film. However the characters are quite stupid to get what they want to happen. Instances like not grabbing a weapon when you obviously have a chance and not keeping an eye on a dangerous person. After a few times you start to side with the demon…
• The last 20 minutes of the film were great. It was like an extra bonus, some very cool stuff.
The characters try their best to not die, but fail, and summon the Abomination. I loved the blood rain, the tease and getting the ‘end of days’. The Abomination (from hell) turned out to be not as awesome as the name suggests! The chainsaw finish was really very satisfying.
• In the credits, there’s some audio from the original evil dead from the first film, and a snippet afterwards – nothing huge but you should stick around if you see the movie. Groovy.
•There’s a much tamer alternate ending where Mia collapses on the road after the house blows up, and is picked up by a driver. She wakes, no longer possessed, and that’s that.
Overall : I enjoyed this cabin horror a lot. Ok, it’s no Evil Dead 2 and the characters are forgettable, but the pace, non-CG gore and Evil Dead routine is so much fun. This film loves all that is horror, a lovely homage/sequel to the original with some striking imagery. Recommended!