[BD Review] ‘Evil Dead’ Is A Thrillingly Gory Blast

Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead is most certainly a remake done right. It takes elements from one of horror’s favorite franchises and reinterprets them in the most extreme manner possible for a studio film. It’s very much an attempt to recreate the intended effect of the original for 2013 audiences and, in that regard, it’s almost entirely successful. Built from the ground up like some perverse mainstream blockbuster, it might very well be the first “event film” aimed squarely at the heart of those who’ve been craving blood for all these years.

After the rapturous reception at tonight’s premiere, I was a little surprised to see some reactions on my way home that took the film to task for being “fan service.” Of course it’s fan service. 100% percent. In many ways, the 1981 original was fan service as well – the product of a bunch of young horror nuts whose debut film was a love letter to the genre itself. Of course the difference here is that the remake is a love letter to a pre-existing franchise, but it never falters in its giddy exploration of that world. The Evil Dead movies have always been about fun – a bloody sandbox in which characters are tormented in relentlessly inventive ways. I’ve never found a lot of higher meaning in the franchise, so I’m not sure what some of these folks were expecting to find here.

Evil Dead isn’t perfect. After an intense opening, the film struggles to find the right balance of pathos and humor as it introduces its main characters. These kids aren’t headed out to a cabin in the woods to smoke weed and get laid, they’re trying to help their friend Mia [Jane Levy] detox from heroin. At this point the movie can’t quite decide if these characters are stock or unique, and in trying to have it both ways a few of the exchanges fall flat. I admire the fact that the Alvarez and co-screenwriter Rodo Sayagues [along with Diablo Cody] are reaching for something interesting here, but one of the things they sacrifice in their ambition is the summery ensemble chemistry that so many of these films benefit from. Levy and Lou Taylor Pucci are consistently great throughout, but it takes about 20 minutes for the other three characters to warm up.

And that’s pretty much the end of the film’s problems. After things kick into high gear Evil Dead becomes absolutely unstoppable. If you’ve seen the trailers, this is exactly the movie they’ve been selling all along – and somehow it still manages to surprise. For one, it’s even gorier than you’re expecting. I seriously don’t have a clue as to how they wrangled an “R” rating here. Blood, pus, bone fragments, limbs and brains are flung around with playful abundance and the result is both punishing and exhilarating.

Even better is the film’s sense of escalation. There were literally moments where I felt like I was flying with joy. I’m obviously the target audience for something like this, but it’s been a long time since I got a charge so perfectly pitched between catharsis and repulsion. Stripped away from any sense of moral obligation, the violence and cruelty of Evil Dead is intriguingly warm hearted and comforting, probably because it stems from the film’s overriding need to please you. This film doesn’t condemn its audience, it exalts it – and as a result it’s able to achieve a sustained symphony of carnage that energizes rather than exhausts. By the time the film hits its climax – during which the sky literally rains blood for the entirety of the final battle – I was sort of wishing it would never end.

It’s also something you should see in a theater. While I’m sure I’ll get a lot of replay out of the eventual Blu-ray release, this is something you need to experience with your fellow horror comrades. You’re going to want to share this. You’re going to want to hear your friends laugh, scream and utterly lose themselves. This is your Avengers, this is your Avatar, this is whatever you’ve been wanting a “big” horror movie to be for over a decade. Not a perfect movie, but a near perfect experience.

Evil Dead is a f*cking blast.

Official Score

  • sascha henschel

    OK, but why not 5 skulls, if only a few characters need to warm up?
    E.g. Dogsoldiers, Identity, Ringu, Sin City etc. received 5 skulls…
    These are all films with a lot of character problems.

    What do you keep in secret?

  • horrorking95

    I agree, this review praises the film to high heavens! 4/5 seems lower than expected. Nevertheless this review’s content has confirmed my excitement! Bring it on!

  • HorrorFromDownUnder

    Hell yeah sounds great! Fanboy question here but did Bruce pop up in it anywhere?

    • Flash-Over

      The best way to answer this without a major spoiler is that good things come to those who wait 😉

  • lucscs100

    Yeah… You say the movie is amazingly awesome and gives it 4/5 skulls? Not even a 4.5/5? It doesn’t make sense…
    Oh, and is there a cameo?

  • sillylung1192

    i saw it last night and all i have to say is “WOW!!!” if i could give it 10 out of 5 i would. it was everything i was hoping for.

  • Kroork

    So damn excited !!!

  • eagleye25

    To the members commenting on why the reviewer only gave it 4/5 after saying things like: “This is your Avengers, this is your Avatar, this is whatever you’ve been wanting a “big” horror movie to be for over a decade.” (sorry, had to. great review Mr. Dickson, btw)..It’s probably because it’s a remake. The individuals responsible for creating this “thrill ride”, which is what it sounds like, DIDN’T create this, not from scratch anyway. They had an original template to work from, which probably cost them that skull you guys were wondering about. Could be wrong, but I know I couldn’t give a great film, even an amazingly entertaining one like I’m starting to believe this will turn out to be, the “full salute” as it were, if the design existed prior to it’s own. Again, just a guess. Anyways, great review! great news!! I cant wait!!!

  • endo

    So happy to read this review and hear this movie is every bit as awesome as I was led to believe by the trailers.
    Definitely be seeing this in the theater opening day!! Great review and great site BTW!

  • flesheater24

    AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I am so pumped I’ve been wanting a fantastic solid remake, and gore film for quite some time. :) I’ll be there midnight for sure. IDC if I have work in the morning the next day I am FUCKIN THERE>

  • runcible

    “This is your Avengers, this is your Avatar, this is whatever you’ve been wanting a “big” horror movie to be for over a decade.”
    No, not really. What I’ve wanted for over a decade… is most certainly *not* yet another remake.
    If anyone involved in the making of this movie really had something to say, then they would have made their own movie, instead of dry-humping yet another cinematic corpse into absurdity.
    What a limp dick this genre has turned into.

    • sascha henschel

      Don’t judge too early. Maybe you’ll like it…

      But the question is, what kind of movie do you want?
      Something new like Human Centipide, Martyrs, Frankenstein Theory (stands for found footage as an example)?
      All I say to that is NO and also to vertical video.

      And they did indeed their own movie.

      ***Spoilers following***

      – Where was the book left in the original ED? Right, at the cabin. So they have to go there to find it.
      – Do they go there for the same reason? No, they went there, to this lonesome place, in order to get their drug addict friend back in shape.
      If they want to party, they could do it at home or a hotel, so I think this reason is even more plausible than the original.
      – What about the tone of the movie? Right, straight forward terror, horror and gore. Any complains about that?
      – Twists, included! Bad good bad, she’s the girl with the chainsaw.

      So far makes all sense and sounds good, or?

  • Mives

    Got to say, it’s a huge relief to here that Evil Dead has kicked some goals. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (39 this year), my tastes are becoming more refined. I need smart, well written thought provoking, blah,blah,blah…..no actually, sometimes you need a movie to remind you with a sledgehammer why we love the genre to begin with.

    Evil Dead at it’s core is a simple little journey into hell. No massive twists or turns, just an excuse to bash the crap out of people and see who comes out on top. Story concept older than Moses himself. Except now, it’s full HD, color corrected and gallons of claret. 90?mins of sheer win. Can’t fucking wait!

  • DeadInHell

    The thing that bothers me about this review is that it sort of feels like reviews of GTA IV back when that came out. Reviewers seemed to be saying everything that I wanted to hear, but none of it actually meshed with reality. It was more important to them to create an idea of a game that fulfills all the promises of the medium, rather than to honestly discuss the product itself.

    I could be dead wrong (it’s certainly happened before). But nothing that I have come across (from stills, trailers, reviews, interviews, etc.) instills the slightest confidence that this will be anything other than a pointless rehash and an artless exercise in detached sadism and audience abuse. Torture porn is not terrifying, it’s tiresome.

    And for the record, I think “our” Avengers was Cabin in the Woods (and not just because it was co-written by Joss Whedon). It was, to me, everything you claim this film is. It was “both punishing and exhilarating”, delivered escalation on an unrivaled scale, and brought me pure joy as a long-time genre enthusiast. I simply cannot imagine this remake nearing that joyous balance of, as you wrote, “catharsis and repulsion”.

    Cabin in the Woods is also the film that I’m going to be thinking of every time someone in this one does something incredibly, inexplicably stupid (e.g. reading the Latin). Evil Dead is just…too little too late.

  • runcible

    There was a time, years ago, back when movies were whittled out of wood, when folks were worried about the genre. Sequels were killing creativity. Why make something new… when you could just cash in by making a “reasonable facsimile?” Wow, we hadn’t seen anything yet. Today, you don’t need an original thought in your head. Just pick an old movie, and make it again. Throw some blood in there, perhaps better effects, and the money will come rolling in. Heck, look at Rob Zombie’s “Halloween.” Some half-assed rock star remakes horror’s “Casablanca,” and the masses lap it up. What a goat-fuck pile of dog shit that was. And now, this abortion. A genre that was known for taking chances… is now a THE safe haven for hucksters and snake oil salesmen. Hey, why not a horror film where Steve Carrell kills people, until Jonah Hill stops him? Bunch of guys wake up after a night of drinking, can’t remember shit, and Steve starts chopping heads off. Finally, Jonah says, “Let go of him, you bitch!” and then kills Steve with a robot suit? Fucking bank, baby! Or maybe, a guy makes a deal with the devil, let’s Satan bang his wife. We could get that chick from the vampire movies, the one with the pissy look on her face, to play the wife. Will Ferrell could be Satan. Why not? Cha-ching!

  • Scorpionsy

    I just can’t take it anymore…I am going to see the screening…a full 3 and half weeks before official release. Man, I am having dreams about being at the movie theater watching this with a crowd of horror-hungry fans!! This is going to be EPIC!!!

  • johnchainsaw

    It really surprises me to see that a lot of horror fans really like this movie. I always loved the Evil Dead Franchise for what it is… Extremely entertaining and just loads of bloody fun. And I am really afraid that they can`t do it justice….Is my scepticism uncalled for?
    In the last couple of years we have seen so many horror remakes which have been made for just one reason: cash-in. They resemble the constant lack in creativity that has taken over the film industry. I really find it sad that great movies from the past get remade for the wrong reasons. Why remake classics like Red Dawn, Nightmare on Elm Street or now Evil Dead? We all love these movies and I for my part do not want them remade.

    • slobes

      then don’t pay money to watch it. no one forced you to see it.

      • johnchainsaw

        Obviously no one is going to force me to watch it. But it is sad to see all this great classics getting remade for all the wrong reasons.
        It may not be the case with Evil Dead… but I do not think this is practice that should be supported at all. Anybody who claims having enjoyed the latest NoES for example does not deserve any respect.

  • MasterSheba666

    I cannot believe some of the comments I have read here. Honestly after all this time. I trust Bruce and Sam a whole lot more than you all do. They HAVE had some to do with this movie. And if this was just cashing in they would have hired the same young stupids we see in every film. And I CANNOT STAND the twilight series. And I do not feel ANY of that here. I am so excited I just cannot wait! I have been waiting literally years…So it is time just to take our seat in theater. And once again be scared and laugh at the same time!

  • slobes

    thanks for the spoiler on the bloody rain, you fuck.

    • ChelseaGoneAwry

      Uh, have you watched the trailer? It literally shows the raining blood for like a full ten seconds. Get over it.

  • ChelseaGoneAwry

    I was planning on seeing this regardless of its review because hello, it’s freaking Evil Dead. Now that it’s gotten my favorite horror site’s stamp of approval, I’m even MORE pumped! AND it comes out two days before my birthday. Happy birthday to me! 😀

  • FingerxCuffs

    Stoked! Was planning on seeing it regardless, and then I saw the trailer. Looks like a very good addition to an amazing franchise. Definitely hitting up the midnight showing on this one 😀

  • USUCK

    I enjoyed the movie a lot too. Although my crowd for the viewing was not what you would consider a horror crowd so that probably didnt help. I think it would be more fun with a rowdy crowd. I enjoyed it up until the climax but felt like it needed more in the ending. I would love to see what was cut out b/c there are clearly sequences where stuff was removed and want to see more.

  • daruckus

    I give it a 4.5. I agree that a couple of characters don’t really develop properly though I have a feeling that one of the characters had been pushed aside on purpose as a bit of a joke to the genre.

    This film is definitely scary without resorting to predictable editing and the gore is absolutely shocking. I really have no idea how this got away with an R and I a both pleased and concerned.

    CHECK THIS FILM OUT!!! It deserves to be praised for what it is. I don’t understand how anyone can give a horror film that actually delivers horror a bad rating (referring to it’s unimpressive meta/rottentomatoes BS rating).

  • WalkWithMeInDarkness

    Just got back from seeing it. VERY FUCKING PLEASED!!!!!

  • violentdope

    Ya this movie is the shit.Starts off slow but when it gets goin its a great ride.Cant wait for a sequel.Stay till the end of the credits for something groovy.

  • feck

    I’d give the first 80 minutes a “C” and the final 10 an “A.” It was just a pretty good movie. Certainly not scary at all, which was a real bummer. Yes, it’s gory, but it wasn’t the extreme mega-gore fest that everyone has been saying (which I am thankful for). For me, it didn’t really get me going until the blood rain started at the end. Then it got good, and then it was over. With all the hype – I’d say overall I’m disappointed. I’m also not surprised by the many, many negative reviews I have read all over the internet. I’d recommend waiting for the DVD and renting it from Redbox.

  • AtomikPunck

    The first 10 minutes where not needed. The middle of the film actually started to win me over. But the last 10 minutes freaking blew it! REALLY?! The movie overall is not worth the ticket price and it will not be added to my collection when its released on br/dvd. I felt disappointed and robbed by the ending honestly. Bruce, Sam, and Rob all put a lot into making this “Not SUck” for the hardcore fans like me. But it missed the mark. Especially the ending. PLEASE! NO SEQUEL! Just give us Evil Dead 4!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • QueenofScream666

    I have to say that this was one hell of a movie, especially for the gore factor. I had very low expectations when I went in to see it because well, I hate remakes of anything and I hate how Hollywood messes shit up….however, this was well done. The first opening of the movie was a little meh, but with the weird transition into the main parts (although awkward)it somehow seemed to work out. They did the original justice and the gore was outstanding. The cheesy dialogue was a bit unnecessary, but because it gave the film a campy B rated horror feel, it was appropriet. Like many have stated, it’s amazing how they even let this slide being in theaters. “R” is not the rating it should have been titled.

  • abbs0912

    OMFG EVIL DEAD WAS THE SH*T!!! What a fantastic movie!

  • stelatonmave

    I just want to point out that the synopsis of this movie is incorrect. In the remake, the “five twenty-somethings” do not find an archaeologist’s tapes. They find the book, and one of the five translates the words. The archaeologist is from the original Evil Dead.
    As for the review, I would give it a solid three stars, perhaps three and a half. It is a good movie, and Raimi has said that it is closer to what he wanted to do back then. But it does lack the creativity and the freshness of the original and it got outdone by Whedon’s genius Cabin in the Woods.

  • RudyIgnbv

    This movie should have 5 skulls, its definitely one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen and definitely among of my top 5 of 2013

  • Robert-Anderson

    First day of being out in the UK, it was f*cking awesome but some bits in the trailer were left out of film so i can’t wait for the DVD.

  • AScreamQueen

    The movie was a fierce bitch and the blood and kills were a blast. Loved it and would see it again.

  • Prof.-Lumpcicle

    It seems like I’m in the minority but I thought Evil Dead sucked. It’s like it took every cliche of the past 6-8 years and crammed it into 1 big bore fest.

    Pale, soggy, crawling, twitching possessed people may have worked 8 years ago when it first became big, but now it’s kinda passé. Not only that but the story about the brother and sister was gut-wrenchingly painful. Especially the burial scene with the soft sentimental piano. Soooo bad.

  • TAINTEDBYFIRE

    How can we change this “average user rating” to 5 skulls? I would like to know this!

  • stargazer

    2 skulls at max. This movie was a Disney remake of Evil Dead for the kids. A few gore scenes nothing more. Terrible script, lame characters, no suspense etc. We had seen it before in much better ways.

    • wolffearpain6336

      LOL, even negative reviews state the opposite. What a troll lmao.

  • Kissmeyoufilthycunt

    5/5
    Every time i talk about this movie this childish fucking glee and anticipation comes over me, i get excited and i giggle uncontrollably. I loved it.
    Great acting, great effects, great suspense and sick gore. Fucking relentless.
    And good ol’ bruce pops up after the credits. Groovy.