Title: Evil Dead
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Director: Fede Alvarez
Screenwriters: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas
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