Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
It’s a fact most movie lovers have a hard time accepting about modern mainstream cinema: virtually every movie that comes out is a rehash of an old idea. Be it a sequel, prequel, reboot, remake, fuck even interquels are a thing now – new and original movies are hard to come by at American cineplexes. That being said, I accept Evil Dead as an example of a horror remake done right, but begrudgingly. Evil Dead is very much a horror film for horror fans, not unlike last year’s The Cabin in the Woods.
Yet whereas The Cabin in the Woods was a thesis on the deeper cultural touchstones that inform the narrative themes of American Horror films, Evil Dead is an examination of the other side – the violent and visceral excess of such films. Put both movies together and you could almost have a dissertation on the last 25 years of American Horror cinema. In an era where bad CGI has become the new zipper on the back on the monster suit Evil Dead seeks to put violence and gore on its own pedestal. And it does. Astoundingly. The practical effects add so much to the violence in the film, a tactile quality not seen since, well, since the first Evil Dead.
The film centers around a group of twenty-something friends who exclude themselves in a cabin in the woods in order to help their friend, Mia, detox and kick a nasty heroin habit. The acting is above average for a contemporary horror film, and so is the attention paid to the script. One bothersome quirk are the lines of dialogue by Diablo Cody, which stick out like a sore thumb – like when Mia throws her remaining heroin down a well: “Say hello to cold turkey.” And I cringe.
But is Evil Dead scary? Not really. Unless you consider extreme violence and sudden, loud noises legitimate scares, it won’t keep you up at night. But then no one was really scared by The Cabin in the Woods and all the horror fans loved it. Evil Dead is simultaneously catered to fans of the original, and accessible to those unfamiliar with the Sam Raimi classic. There are the obligatory callbacks, but Evil Dead is still allowed to become its own entity. Fede Alvarez is a talented director with a unique vision and technique. Perhaps this film will provide him the clout to do his own movie as it would be very interesting to see an original film from Alvarez.
With the heroin aspect of the plot setting into motion the narrative, it would seem as though addiction will be the principal metaphor in the film for the insidious possession that spreads among the cabin goers. However, it appears only to be a device to get all the victims in an isolated cabin and believably give them a reason not to buy Mia’s story when she becomes the first to fall victim to the deadites.
The modern Evil Dead is much more likely to tap into society’s heightened consciousness towards rape in the wake of the Steubenville trial. As all matter of phallic-like implements pierce the unwilling flesh of our protagonists and trust is always questionable between the men and women in the film. Man-on-woman violence and visa-versa abound in Evil Dead. However, the penultimate battle in this film is between Mia and a twisted version of herself. Whether she face-fucks her demented doppelganger with a chainsaw as a means of negotiating her sexual identity is something you can decide for yourself, but you’ll probably be too busy thinking how awesome it is.