What It's About
Perhaps the bloodiest movie ever made, "Evil Dead" is a remake of the 1981 dazzler that established Sam Raimi's reputation and became a favorite of horror movie aficionados.
Raimi is a writer and a producer on this reboot, and his ultimate B-movie star Bruce Campbell is a producer, too, so their stamp of approval is evident. The reboot pays homage to the original but also features touches of parody. This graphic, gory thrill-a-palooza has fun with the formula.
After all, it was a dark and stormy night, as five young adults stay in a rundown cabin in the woods. They make a gruesome discovery in the basement, and one unleashes all hell's fury when he reads aloud from a mysterious book -- despite warnings not to! That's what happens when you come across the Book of the Dead.
Let the fright night begin! Demonic possession leads to relentless assaults, disturbing invasions, dismemberment, and all sorts of mayhem involving power tools, a nail gun and kitchen utensils.
The quintet of 20-somethings are an improvement over the original's cheesy acting, but everyone takes these roles very seriously. There doesn't seem to be a funny bone among them -- although there are a few unintentional comedic lines delivered.
Jane Levy ("Suburgatory") is trying to kick a drug addiction, and this isolated location is perfect for Mia's cold-turkey withdrawal. Even estranged brother David (Shiloh Fernandez "Red Riding Hood") is there for support, with his old dog Grandpa and new girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Longtime pals Olivia, a nurse (Jessica Lucas, "Cloverfield") and Eric, a teacher (Lou Taylor Pucci, "The Music Never Stopped"), are wary -- they've been through this before. So when things unravel, they chalk it up to withdrawal hallucinations and mood swings.
The women aren't bubbleheads or typical victims, either, which might be the result of Diablo Cody's (Oscar for "Juno") screenwriting involvement (no longer listed in credits ... hmmm).
But basically they exist to boost the body count, and they all get a workout of their best crazy-eyes expressions and how many different ways to react to projectile body fluids.
A nice touch is a couple cameos by original cast members.
Campy wit and ingenious zooming camera angles distinguished the first one, and while the current film might have less innovation, it delivers what fans want. The camera's zippy whirling, the jolts -- someone or something's behind you! -- and a plethora of shocks provided by unholy supernatural scenarios serve the material well.
A bigger budget helps set the creepy mood, and the lighting is particularly effective.
It will scare the bejeezus out of those willing to endure one horrible happening after another. Oh those unpredictable devils!
What Doesn't Work
This movie is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Even the genre's hardcore fans were groaning and gasping at some of the torture. I had both hands covering my eyes several times, peaking out to see if they were finished with a gross-out scene.
We're talking copious amounts of blood -- gushers, geysers, sprays, rain, not to mention lots of oozing and massive amounts of sticky goo. You have been warned -- enter at your own risk.
3 stars out of 4
Director: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Rated: R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language