Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

"We've Replaced This Critics Brain With A Chainsaw Blade, But Be Quiet. Let's See If He Notices". (The Introduction)
Those of you who may have read my Evil Dead 2 Review and my recent article exploring whether or not Horror Movies Are As Good As They Used To Be will no doubt be aware of the fact that I am a huge fan of both Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead series.
So I was a little disheartened to hear that not only was the Horror Classic getting a remake (Not a good sign in a current climate where Remakes of some of the Horror genre's have been receiving a lukewarm reception at best) but also that the films Iconic Hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) would not be present - How could the film possibly succeed without the support of Campbell's legendary Chin? 
In my eye's the project seemed doomed from the start.

But I (and I am willing to admit this) was wrong (and I will now proceed to discuss why).

"This... is my boomstick!" 
Directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert the force behind the original trilogy. The story of Evil Dead sees Five former friends reuniting at a cabin deep within the woods in-order to help one of their own overcome a drug addiction but the discovery of a book bound in human-flesh in a hidden basement awakens a dark force within the woods which begins possessing the friends one by one.
Its encouraging to see so many of the people behind the original Trilogy involved in the making of this movie as it means that the series is still in the hands of the people who care about it rather than simply being interested in how much money can be made from it, it also means that the movie carries the same feel and style as the previous instalment which prevents fans feeling alienated as it stays true to the key elements of the story (The book in the basement, The living forest) whilst changing various elements to make the relationships between the characters stronger and better developed, the reason for their visit to the cabin carry more meaning, changing up small elements to enhance the story and the characters before proceeding to rip them to shreds.

"I Never Even Saw These Assholes Before". (The Cast)
As with the original the film main cast consists of a group of five friends but in this adaptation they are slightly older and have all grownup and gone their separate ways with David (Shiloh Fernandez) - Mia's Brother - having left the group and his sister when his mother fell ill leaving Mia (Jane Levy) to take care of her mother's worsening condition alone (Which would ultimately lead to her drug use) and so his return creates a lot of tension amongst the group who felt abandoned by his departure. 
The relationship between David and Mia is the films key emotional theme as David attempts to mend fences with his sister and support her during her struggle as he failed to do so previously.

Where as in the original version the future victims had travelled to the cabin during spring-break to drink and have sex (as teenagers so often do in horror movies) the remake ingeniously presents a different motive - To Help Their Friend Overcome Her Drug Addiction - this not only gives the characters reason to be at a cabin far away from civilisation  but also works to prolong the disbelief of the involvement of a supernatural element when the situation begins to spiral out of control as the group dismisses both Mia's warnings and early signs of possession as being hallucinations due to her withdrawal symptoms. 
Mia seems to be a likable girl who's life may not have gone in the direction she would have wanted but still has hope for redemption which makes it kind of heartbreaking once she is possessed and begins the slide into insanity as you cant help but feel like she deserved a chance to start anew and is undeserving of all the terrible things she now endures. 

"We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound 'fine'?"
Over members of the group consist of Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) a school teacher who is responsible for reading from the book and summoning the evil that now threatens them, early in the film Eric seems like he will become an unlikable character due to being responsible for the whole situation as he goes out of his way to read the contents of the book (Which someone had gone to great efforts to make illegible) and yet as the situation worsens Eric not only seems o take the brunt of the violence but also seems to be the only character willing to take the steps needed to set things right.
The rest of the cast are not so well developed and although their reasons for being present are nothing more but impending corpses and even though each gets their own moment in the gory limelight (Olivia(Jessica Lucas): Shaving with Glass, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) disarming herself) their character do not receive the attention the brother and sister duo.

"That can't be your face... did your neck throw up?"
A Farewell To Arms. (The Violence)
Calling this film violent is like saying that the Pope is a some-what spiritual individual.
Simply the variety of the films violence and weapons is utterly INSANE!, With characters being attacked with/or attacking the possessed with .
  • Boiling Water.
  • Fire.
  • Branches and Vines.
  • A Machete 
  • A Crowbar.
  • A Nail-Gun.
  • A Pair of Pliers.
  • A Stanley Knife.
  • A Electric Knife.
  • A Shard of Broken Mirror.
  • A Chunk of a Broken Sink.
  • A Needle.
  • A Hammer.
  • A Shotgun.
  • A Chainsaw.  
  • A Truck.
  • Being Nearly Drowned.
  • Being Buried Alive. 
And each and every one of these weapons are used to great effect as bones are smashed, limbs are severed, flesh melts, blood is spewed and the violence is so well handled that when the characters are injured its convincing enough that it makes each and every single confrontation so tense that regardless of the weapon they are facing each new wound could be any characters last.
"When you've just emptied two barrels of a shotgun into the head of your favorite bartender it's a pretty good bet that happy hour's over."
The film does often linger on shots of the weapons several scenes before they are wielded such as the nail-gun being display in use early on in the film before being used against the survivors later on, while many of today's horror films use this technique (A specific scene from the recent remake of 'Friday the 13th' involving a wood-chipper jumps to mind) the sheer number of weapons in this film cause these shots to make it impossible just what weapon is going enter the fray next.

"Hey, She-Bitch". (The Deadites)
While the origins of the Book of the Dead are explored in detail in the 1981 version the remake only offers a glimpse into its origin, With the audience aware that something horrible and book related has occurred at the cabin in the past but never revealing the full details of exactly what happened and how it came about, this creates a better sense of mystery surrounding the book.
The Deadites (with the exception of Mia) do not talk once they are possessed removing any trace of humanity by replacing normal movement and sound with bursts of twitching and clicking sounds.
The newly possessed also seem to be fans of self mutilation: cutting, burning and generally deforming their own facial features. 
If there is a single complaint I have against the deadites in general it is that the old 'revert to innocence in order to lower their victims guard' trick is a little overused leaving the audience screaming their best Jurassic Park "Shooooot Errrrrr!!" impressions at the screen.

"Another poster child for birth control."
The final confrontation features several genuinely eerily moments early on as the audience is able to make out the appearance of the attacker but not the facial features. Once the face of the demon is revealed the effectiveness wears off somewhat but the creature still holds a dangerous and menacing presence and makes for a great final confrontation in possibly the greatest horror movie environment ever.

"Klaatu... Verata....Ni????". (Conclusions)
So is the 2013 Remake better than the original?
Well No. - But it is unfair to judge the two films by the same standards (Not only due to the lack of Campbell's Chin) The original version The Evil Dead's production consisted of a group of friends who came together to try and make a Horror film whist operating under a tiny budget, so it was required to be creative 
and original in order to build tension using inexpensive but effective filming techniques like the 'Possession Cam' while the 2013 remake features both a considerably larger budget and the benefit in the advance of film technology. 
But the best way to describe the remake would be to call it The Evil Dead for Today's Horror Audiences as it is more reliant on Gore (Which it does exceptionally well) than suspense based scares, whilst its larger budget allows it to be more daring than its predecessor. So all in all Even thought this film suffers from the absence of Bruce Campbell (But wouldn't everything be better with more Bruce Campbell?) this movie is a faithful and enjoyable adaptation of the 1981 original which not only does its source material justice but also delivers its own barrage of shocks and gore whilst keeping the audience guessing about just what is going to happen next. It  creates hope for both the future of the franchise and the horror genre in general and I highly recommend that both fans of the original and horror fans in general should check it out.

Also the film features the best post-credit scene EVER!!! (and it doesn't even feature Samuel L. Jackson)

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