Evil Dead: Decent Remake of Raími's Cult Horror

The new “Evil Dead,” a remake of Sam Raimi’s cult-hit horror film of the same title, is not as good or impressive as the 1981 feature, but it’s a decent one, likely to satisfy the die-hard fans of Raimi’s movie as well as a new generation of horror aficionados, who have not seen the first film, or have seen it on the small screen (on their VCR or DVD).

Trailer: www.emanuellevy.com/?attachment_id=62686

With Raimi’s support, Fede Alvarez makes a striking feature directing debut, working from a rather conventional screenplay, co-penned by him and Rodo Sayagues.

World-premiering at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Fest (SXSW), “Evil Dead,” a TriStar production, will be released by Sony Pictures on April 5. The studio should do reasonably well at the box-office, due to the status of the original cult item, the eager anticipation for the remake by young viewers, and the fact that there is not much competition in the marketplace this month.

It’s hard to believe that three decades have passed since Raimi burst upon the movie scene with his scary horror feature. Since then the conventions of the genre, as well as

technology (visual and sound effects) have radically changed, all of which are reflected in the reboot.

One reason why this remake, unlike most others, does work is that it smart enough to update some notions of the old movie, specifically in the area of gender politics. The female characters are stronger and feature more prominently in the new version.

Another reason for its effectiveness may derive from the blessing, encouragement, and support given to the effort by Raimi himself, who has functioned as the reboot’s executive producer.

The narrative premise is more or less the same. The tale is set in a remote cabin in the woods, which becomes a bloody site of horrors, when a group of twentysomething friends unwittingly awakens some ancient demons.

Featuring a largely fresh, young cast, this “Evil Dead” combines the original movie’s frills and trills and gore with a series of shocking, occasionally chilling, new twists.

As noted, this time around, the protagonist is a female named Mia (Jane Levy), a young, bright, attractive woman whose life has been defined by loss and addiction.

To help her overcome her deep sorrow and anxiety, in what she believes would be a process of “recovery,” Mia asks her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and their childhood friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) to join her at the family’s cabin deep in the woods.

Once there, Mia begins to engage in a strange, ritualistic conduct. For example, early on, she destroys the last of her stash and decides to go off drugs in public, in front of her friends.

Turning point occurs, when, to their shock (but not ours) the click’s members discover that the allegedly abandoned cabin has been visited by strangers. But by whom? The evidence is all there: The cellar has been invaded by grotesque mummified animals.

The individual members react in different ways to the revelation. Eric, for one, becomes fascinated with an ancient book he discovers in the place. Intrigued by its mysterious contents, he reads aloud from it, never for a second suspecting any consequences to his bizarre conduct.

Meanwhile, Mia’s withdrawals get worse and worse, and she begins to unravel. Trying to escape, she is turned back by a frightening vision. (No more could be disclosed here, or else the fun of the horror will be spoiled).

Back at the cabin, Mia’s behavior becomes so violent that her friends are forced to restrain her, against their better instincts and after some debate.

It doesn’t help that there’s a dangerous storm raging outside, which is a cliché of the horror genre. Predictably, the group dynamics begin to change, and the friends start to turn on each other. As a result, there are both internal and external threats.

Not surprisingly, the brutality of the attacks increases, to the point where David is forced to make a choice that would influence not only him but also his amigos.

Alvarez’s helming makes the most of the so-so scenario, which is replete with clichés and other notions familiar from countless horror flicks over the past decade.

Ultimately, what justifies seeing this film is its incorporation of state of the art visual and sound effects, which were not available when Raimi made his movie three decades ago.

With some luck, Sony may turn “Ëvil Dead” from a cult (underground) classic, relying on “primitive” but scary effects, to a box-office hit embraced by a new generation of viewers who were not been born when Raimi made his bold picture.