"Evil Dead" (2013) Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
If a horror movies becomes so successful that it spawns a franchise that ultimately goes dormant after a while, it is practically inevitable it will receive a reboot. It has happened to "Friday the 13th", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Halloween", and it has happened to Sam Raimi's classic campy horror franchise, Evil Dead. The films in this franchise have seen many changes, including going from straight horror to campy comedy, but this 2013 reboot from Fede Álvarez wants to go fully hardcore, delivering a surprisingly good horror film whose main goal is to terrify and nauseate its viewers.
This reboot practically follows the same plot as the film is it based upon: a group of friends go to a cabin, accidentally let loose the evil spirits by reading from the Book of the Dead, and now they must all figure out how to survive their way out of the cabin. However, our group of characters have been changed quite a bit. While the original saw the group going for a mini vacay, this film revolves around Mia (Jane Levy), a drug addict who is hoping to kick her addictions during a stay at the cabin with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his group of friends (Jessica Lewis, Elizabeth Blackmore, Lou Taylor Pucci).
Going into this film, as I have watched it for the first time to write this review, I wasn't expecting a lot. Many of the reboots they make in Hollywood are usually no where as good as the film it is trying to be, and usually leaves fans of the franchise disappointed. This film is not the case. I was honestly very surprised by how well this film was made and the horror aspects they were able to achieve. There were some moments throughout where I found myself squirming in my seat due to how gory or disturbing the film is. Consider the scene where one of the teenage girls, who is now possessed by the Evil Dead, starts to cut her own tongue in cheek off in a sawing motion with a knife. It's both awesomely gnarly and graphically disturbing at the same time.
The film doesn't hold back in terms of the blood and gore aspect; this is perhaps one of the bloodiest horror movies I've ever seen. While you start to expect the blood and it would feel weird without it in the older films of the franchise, this installment keeps adding on more and more until it seems like way too much at times in such a good way. The film is not shy about grossing out its viewers or making them squirm; the tagline isn't "The most terrifying movie you will ever experience" without a reason.
I think that is the main focus of the movie- it's not meant to be a movie you watch, it is meant as an experience. The movie draws the viewer into the screen, making them feel like they are apart of all the gory details and can't find any escape from it. A huge part of me wishes I was able to experience this movie in theaters when it came out because I feel like this movie is meant to see in theaters. A home viewing for it doesn't do it justice.
In addition to the effective use of blood and gore, I think this movie also contains good performances, with a spectacular performance from Levy. Everyone does a pretty good job of getting through the movie, full of blood and terror, and they deliver effective performances. But when looking at Levy in this movie, no one comes close to being as great as she is. In my opinion, up to this point, she gave the best performance in the entire franchise. She is able to switch up from drug addict, to possessed spirit, to unexpected heroine so quickly and effortlessly that it is so amazing to watch. This role should easily make her a certified scream queen.
Now, even though it has a lot of positives in its favor, there are major flaws in terms of story and characters. I feel like the story had something here with the aspect of drug addiction and recovery, but they half-ass it basically and throw it all out the window once the possessions start. I wish they had spent a little more time developing that story and giving a reason why we should care for these characters. This leads us into another huge negative for me - none of the characters were likable, except Mia. In fact, I was rooting the main characters to die in gory fashion as they simply were not fun or enjoyable at all. I would say the best thing about their characters is their fashionable deaths throughout the movie.
While this is not as good as "Evil Dead II" and has more flaws than the film that kicked this all off, the 2013 reboot is still a really impressive attempt at modernizing the franchise. I liked a lot of what Álvarez did, and the kills and gore were top notch. I really hope we see more of Levy's character in future films or see her in more horror movies as I genuinely think she stole the show here in every possible way.