Review: Evil Dead

Alex McCormick ’16 / Emertainment Monthly TV Editor

Jane Levy in "Evil Dead". © 2012 - TriStar Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved.
Jane Levy in “Evil Dead”. © 2012 – TriStar Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved.
Horror remakes and reboots are a dime a dozen of late. Some of them provide contemporary takes on classic characters and introduce character development that adapts to their audiences—Freddy Krueger being a child molester in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Michael Meyers killing two guards in vengeance after they rape a female inmate in Halloween (2007)—but some, like Friday the 13th (2009), House of Wax (2005), and My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) do little, if anything, for the franchise. Evil Dead, rather surprisingly, does the former, by changing the gender of its lead, and giving her a colorful backstory.
There was nothing remarkable about the directing in Evil Dead. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but there wasn’t really anything that stood out, which, considering the fact that it was director Fede Alvarez’ first feature film, isn’t surprising. The writing could have been stronger, but script doctor Diablo Cody, screenwriter of Juno, Jennifer’s Body, and Showtime series United States of Tara, did what she could with Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues’ original script. I’m sure this was quite a task for Cody and it is criminal she went uncredited, since English is not Alvarez or Sayagues’ native language.
Unsurprisingly, most of the performances in Evil Dead are just sad; Shiloh Fernandez, whose credits include Red Riding Hood, Gossip Girl, and Drake & Josh, plays the male lead, David, but not particularly well. Lou Taylor Pucci, whose only notable credit is St. Jimmy in Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia” music video, played his character, Eric, as unlikably as possible. Jessica Lucas, known for Cloverfield, Melrose Place, and Cult, confirmed that she is destined for short-lived shows on The CW. And Elizabeth Blackmore gave one of the least memorable performances I think I have ever seen as Natalie. However, the one beam of light in regards to the acting in this film is Suburgatory’s Jane Levy.
Levy plays Mia, who replaces Bruce Campbell’s Ash as the series’ protagonist. Initially, she is introduced as a heroin addict who brings the cast together as she tries to quit her vices. The first seventy-seven minutes of this ninety-two-minute film account for a passably mediocre remake. The final fifteen minutes, after [SPOILER:] everyone but Mia is killed, features some of the finest acting I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Evil Dead is a far cry from Levy’s other credits, which, along with Suburgatory, include Shameless and the Josh Schwartz/Nickelodeon film Fun Size, but she did a phenomenal job with such difficult content. Thankfully, Levy has already signed on to reprise her role in the sequel, which was recently confirmed by producer Sam Raimi to be Army of Darkness 2, and I for one feel confident in her ability to carry any kind of future The Evil Dead franchise may have and I can’t think of anyone else who could be a better fit.
Fans of The Evil Dead (1981) will very much enjoy the gratuitous violence and gore of the remake. I personally felt a strange sense of déjà vu with the score and audio effects, which were reminiscent of the original. One can’t help but compare Sam Raimi’s 1981 version to Fede Alvarez’ 2013 remake. Which one is better is something that the viewer needs to decide for him or herself. I will say this: Evil Dead (2013) has a higher score on IMDB than The Evil Dead (1981). Make your own judgments when Evil Dead hits theatres April 5th.

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