Tuesday, April 9, 2013


This remake of Sam Raimi's 1981 horror classic "The Evil Dead" is like the non-ironic version of last year's satirical "The Cabin in the Woods." Five friends indeed go to a cabin in the woods, but this time it's not for a romp of drinking and sex. It's an intervention for their heroin-addicted friend in trouble (Jane Levy of  "Suburgatory"), so things start dark and only get darker, more twisted and disturbed from there. The reimagining from first-time writer and director Fede Alvarez exudes promise with gutsy -- literally -- bravado, and it's produced by both Raimi and the original B-movie icon Bruce Campbell and therefore has received the the stamp of approval from them with good reason. It may not match the wit and camp of the original, but it has enough clever winks and homages, doesn't mess with the simple formula to unfold the demonic chaos and, most importantly, upholds the same ooey-gooey, gross-out thrill ride pleasure.

This new adaptation certainly shares the same blood lust. The real success is the minimal use of CGI gore and instead relying on physical effects to properly mimic the homemade craftiness of the shoestring budget classic. It's easily the most grisly and gruesome horror release in recent memory. Slicing a limb with an electric meat carver, face-cutting with a shard of broken mirror and the good old fashioned use of a chainsaw are among the violent nuggets that test the boundary of good taste. The madness all starts with a twisted recreation of the famed "tree rape" scene, which serves as a great launching point to the demon-infested cabin carnage.

The only recognizable actor is Levy (save for maybe Lou Taylor Pucci who appeared in an episode of "Girls" and here plays the guy in the cabin who realizes that everything is not going to be just fine), and it's fitting because -- as it is with most in the genre -- they only serve as meat to be pressed into the horror movie meat-packing machine. What's really on display is the structure of tension build-up and release, which this reboot does quite effectively. The early suspense creates an unshakable fear of the gore to come, and once it strikes it evokes a combination of shock, disgust and nervous laughter just as every great horror movie should.

And just when we become desensitized enough and just when it feels as if the movie might be stepping a little too close to contemporary horror movie tropes, the outrageous finish cranks up the intensity in a blood-drenched finale. It's sickening fun that'll leave fans of Sam Raimi's horror work (especially bringing to mind his own return to form, 2009's "Drag Me to Hell") cheering with glee as the screen is awash in red raining down from the sky.

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