In Evil Dead, we follow Mia (Jane Levy), her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), David’s ex-best friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and Eric’s girlfriend Olivia (Jessica Lucas). Mia has some serious drug dependency issues, so the group has decided to stay at Mia’s family’s cabin until she’s able to kick her habit. While at the cabin, the group uncovers a creepy book. Eric, a high school teacher, is intrigued and, against his own better judgment, opens the book and reads aloud some passages which awaken an ancient evil that proceeds to slowly take possession of the group one by one, starting with Mia.
I had trouble getting invested in this film, mainly because of some poor character work. We never learn much about them. We know Olivia is a nurse who thinks she knows everything, she’s not very likeable. We know Natalie is David’s kind and caring girlfriend, she’s basically just there. David is a brother who has been mostly absent in Mia’s life, he is trying to make amends. Mia is the much-put-upon sister who has had to deal with some hard times in her past (like having to care for her Alzheimer’s plagued mother). We assume she turned to drugs for help coping with her life and to help erase her pain. Eric is a smart high school teacher who used to be BFs with David, but now resents David mainly due to David not being there for the group or for Mia. That’s about it for character development. The plot isn’t very complex or interesting either, though I did like it here (not that a film like this really needs a complex plot, but some real twists and turns wouldn’t hurt.).
Most of the cast does a decent job, with the standouts being Shiloh Fernandez as David, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, and Jane Levy as Mia. Shiloh Fernandez is likable in his role and does a fine job, but isn’t all that memorable, and Mia’s character isn’t really in it; for most of the film her character is possessed so we are actually watching a demon. Now, Levy is to be commended for pulling off her 3 roles (victim, demon, and heroine) with a good amount of believability, and you can tell she really enjoyed her stint as main demon (probably her most memorable role in the film). That said, I really didn’t care for Mia, and that’s not really the fault of Levy, but the fault of a weak script. I think the best character is Eric, portrayed by Lou Taylor Pucci, he is really put through the wringer here, but keeps trucking on nonetheless, he is also super likable and sympathetic.
Ok, now onto the good stuff…..mainly, the gore! The gore and blood effects that appear in Evil Dead are pretty great. We get multiple mutilations and dismemberments, some nail gun and chainsaw fun, a pretty severe 3rd degree burn and some gruesome parts involving a hypodermic needle, among many others. Evil Dead thinks being gory and bloody is scary….bad news: It’s not, but it sure is fun. This is probably the most blood and gore I have seen in a film in a while. Unfortunately, every one of these scenes feels clean and a bit too polished. I would have preferred if these parts were a bit grittier….but hey, at least there is a lot of the stuff here (more than enough to satisfy any gore hound). I also enjoyed all the nods to the original classic like the Oldsmobile (which has seen better days), the necklace (which actually is given some pretty cool backstory here that makes its use in the original films make sense), some classic lines, a double-barrel shot-gun, and a chainsaw among other things.
Evil Dead‘s biggest accomplishment is that it perfectly captures/re-creates the tone of the first film. It is super bloody and gory and icky, but these parts have an inherent sense of fun and playfulness to them. This is the kind of film you want to watch on a sleepover with friends. Evil Dead is far from a perfect remake, but for my money it is SLIGHTLY better than the original (helps that the effects found here are of a higher quality). While those looking for some serious scares are likely to be disappointed, those who came in seeking a fun, gory time will enjoy the hell out of this cool little flick. Sam Raimi and Bruce “The Man” Campbell would be proud (and they are, seeing as they are the main producers here).
By Daniel “Smalls” Huffman