Evil Dead

Seen at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.

Evil Dead certainly hits the spot it was designed to hit, and no mistake. This intense, ultra-gory remake of the Sam Raimi classic – made with the full blessing and cooperation of Raimi and his fellow mastermind Bruce Campbell – was greeted at SXSW with some of the most enthusiastic and satisfied cheers and hollers I’ve ever heard even from the sort of primed midnight audience this festival typically attracts. I’m an admirer of Raimi’s work, but The Evil Dead is not among my favorites, so I was never going to cry “sacrilege!”; judging by the crowd that packed the Paramount Theatre for my screening, though, the film delivers in the spirit of the original, to fans’ satisfaction.

I can say that it’s a tremendous technical achievement. Director Fede Alvarez films in a frenetic, maximalist style befitting the source material, but he keeps bloody action logical and lucid even while rocketing the camera through the trees at the speed of a locomotive. There’s not a drop of CGI here, and the practical effects are genuinely impressive, without the plasticky chintziness that fans of the artform seem to love but that I find distracting. And when Alvarez amps up the gruesomeness factor, it’s actually rather unsettling rather than merely ridiculous. This is not a remake done on the cheap to make a quick buck; it was clearly made with painstaking effort and great care. It moves fast and looks good.

The problem is the same one that plagued the Raimi film, for me:  it may move fast, but it also goes on forever in the same exhausting vein. After an hour of demon-possessed zombies slicing and stabbing and screaming at a fever pitch, I had had enough – only to be treated to forty minutes more, and all without, let’s face it, a story to speak of. Your mileage may vary.

-- Eugene Novikov

One Comment

  1. CB says:

    The story is a simple one. Same as the original. The book of the dead brought back ancient demons that can possess people. I dont think the original gave you in depth detail of a story about them. I wouldnt expect this in the remake. I seem to prefer somewhat true to life situations. If you were to go to a cabin right now, found that book maybe read something from it and things start happening. I wouldnt think you would know everything there is to know about what was going on. Kind of like a what would you do, or oh shit moment…I havent seen it yet, looking very forward to it. Love the original. Not looking for a storyline because we already know it..just looking for the fun…LOL

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Screening Log

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Score: C

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Score: C+

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Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

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Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

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Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

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Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

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Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

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Score: B

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Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

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