Saturday, March 16, 2019

Evil Dead (2013)

This artwork by Laz Marquez is EV-ER-YTHING.

I remember when I first saw a trailer for this, and it looked INTENSE. So much so that I didn't go and see it on its theatrical release. Tongue slitting?! Wow... that's a bit much.

Well, times have changed! And just recently I was in the mood to pop this on and finally see how I felt about Fede Alvarez's take on the Evil Dead thing. And, honestly, I felt pretty entertained!

After a gorgeous title card/opening shot one-two punch, we're introduced to a group of college kids. In a spin on the original set-up, Mia (Jane Levy, doing most of the work but doing it brilliantly) is being isolated in this cabin in the middle of nowhere in order to go through drug addiction withdrawals. Her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) accompanies her to supervise, along with his girlfriend and Mia's friends (including Spring's Lou Taylor Pucci).

David is warned that his sister has paid lip service to quitting before, with all the heartfelt declarations and ceremony they just witnessed as she threw her drugs away moments before. So, he's told, they have to be harder on her this time if it's really going to work. This is obviously almost instantly the cue for demonic shit to go down and no one initially believing Mia, assuming she's either attempting to manipulate them or hallucinating through her withdrawal.

But as we know: she's not. This is demon dinnertime.

Fans of the originals will recognise some iconic plot points like the tree assault (feeling WAY less exploitative than the 1981 version but still horrible [I watched that to remind myself and YIKES x100]), the Book of the Dead (bound in trash bags and barbed wire; nice touch) the tool shed and an Oldsmobile sitting out to rust near the cabin.

This was neither as sick as I had assumed it would be, nor as redundant. And what I really enjoyed about it was the dirt under its nails. 99% of this film feels deeply unclean; slick with sweat/rain/vomit/blood and caked in mud (and blood!). When horror successfully feels so tainted, I'm so completely on board. I love it when world-within-the-movie feels this soiled.

Sure, the drug comedown madness/evil infiltration thing is a horror trope, but it works like a charm here, and once the demons have an "in" with this group, it's almost non-stop evisceration, self-amputation and screaming.

Taking into account the serious, practical gore + solid story + exceptionally bold visuals (the cinematography was by Aaron Morton, who's since worked on Black Mirror) I feel I must recommend Evil Dead. There's not much about this I can fault. Perhaps the ending? Just slightly? But that may only be because it's where we veer off from the known path more than at any other time and I wasn't quite ready for that. On subsequent viewings, I suspect I'll appreciate it more. For its pure insanity if nothing else.

Now that I've come to accept reboots, reimaginings and their ilk, it's easier to get excited about them. At the end of the day, it's more horror, and that's a good problem to have. None of these films will ever undo the classics, so why not enjoy them? Especially when they are as competently made as this is.

Perhaps the most disturbing shot in the movie, for me.

Raimi and Campbell were in fact producers on this movie. Apparently, the original plan was to make a sequel connecting both this and the originals, as this iteration was said to be set in the same continuity. Such info kind of boggles my mind as tonally they are so different; there are very few moments of levity here. I'm sad a connecting sequel didn't happen, as I can't imagine the middle ground. Would have been interested to see Raimi/Campbell and Alvarez mashup?!

I rented this on Google Play so I imagine it's easy to get hold of if you've yet to see it!

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