Oceans of blood, cringing gore, clenching suspense and some good ol’ laughs for the road make the Evil Dead remake from Uruguayan writer/director Fede Alvarez the best horror movie of 2013 so far.
In this remake, the primary premise from the original has been tweaked. Five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.
The basic objective for one paying to see horror movies is to experience a flood of adrenaline by way of heart-pounding scares and as much blood one can bear for the price of their ticket. But because moviegoers are exposed to a lot more horror these days many have become desensitized to it. That’s why the same ol’ formula just doesn’t cut it anymore, which is why the majority fail at it (most of the Jason and Freddy Krueger films), though some actually deliver the goods (The Strangers, Insidious, Sinister). I’m glad to say that Evil Dead is one of the fortunate cases where the above essentials are met with a combination of 21st-century technology and classic hardcore horror elements.
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, the original director and star respectively, are producers this time around helping Fede Alvarez succeed in his debut. From what I saw, Alvarez has a vast knowledge of the Evil Dead universe and it made for a nostalgic yet modern cinematic experience, which should make any fan of the original trilogy proud. Critics can try and nitpick the movie all they want and even find drawbacks with the ending, but they’re so minimal that the average moviegoer will ignore the particulars.
The production quality this time around is authentic, stylish, crisp and raw. The location took place in a real forest in New Zealand with as little soundstage as possible. The film was shot in the new super high resolution 4k cameras that give it that 16mm film look. CGI was kept to a minimum as to give the movie a more realistic look and the bloody sequences were almost excessive. Jason Durey, the FX supervisor says that his shoot of “30 Days of Night,” which was quite a big, bloody, vampire film, went through 4,500 liters of blood. On this movie, they went through a whopping 25,000 liters of blood and 300 liters of vomit.
As for the acting, it is so much better than the original. I understand that fans think that the bad acting is part of the charm, but even Bruce Campbell himself thought that was one of the original’s biggest foibles. Shiloh Fernandez, of Portuguese descent, along with the rest of the cast, don’t set the world on fire, but they’re convincing, and at the end of the day that’s all you need. I bought their plight and fears and have no complaints to offer.
In regards to the director, I’m glad Hollywood is becoming culture blind. Fede Alvarez, a full fledge Uruguayan, is one of the great Hollywood stories of 2013. He went from the obscurity of a third world country in the farthest regions of the world, to directing and writing the remake of one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror films. Alvarez joins a new wave of Latino filmmakers that are giving the new crop of American helmers a run for their money. Latino filmmakers provide a different point of view on story lines, a more gritty, auteur look to their films and an enthusiasm that is evident on their projects. He is a talented filmmaker, is technically sound and knows how to put a movie together. He reminds me a lot of Robert Rodriguez, another skilled and multi-talented filmmaker who can pretty much do anything with little funding. With new and fresh Latino directors providing Hollywood with a spark for the future, it is only time until the Oscars are flooded with Latino nominees and winners.
But as much as I enjoyed the movie, I’m not surprised to read that some critics were dissatisfied with it. Perhaps it is because they’re trying to compare it with William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” or Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” or any other iconic classic. Those classic films come along once in a blue moon and are considered an exception where masterpiece cinema meets crowd-pleasing satisfaction. What they don’t get is that most horror films are done with entertainment value in mind, in other words, they amp up the gore elements audiences relish so much. Regrettably, the execution ends up being very amateurish and stale. Not with Evil Dead though.
Bottom line – the movie experience you get from Evil Dead is one that you will certainly enjoy. Mentally, there is already a level of excitement as soon as you sit down and eat that buttery drenched popcorn with your fried nachos in deep soggy cheese. Half way through, take a look at the people around you and you’ll notice the whole theater clinching their jaws, gripping the armrests of their chairs and young girls covering their eyes tormented as to what revolting scene is approaching with chilling suspense. Your senses are begging for a break after being exhausted for an hour and a half. The end is a welcome sight and you’ll be happy it’s over, but deep inside, you’re already asking yourself – “When is “Evil Dead 2” be coming out?”