EVIL DEAD Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 107 days ago

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The best compliment that you can pay the new Evil Dead is that we don’t want to destroy it for the audacity of using the name.  It captures the same spirit as Sam Raimi‘s legendary original: that queasy mix of horror and humor that turned it and its sequels into genre masterpieces.  This new version also doesn’t make the mistake of trying to “update” the scenario for a new millennium.  With the exception of a few fashion choices and the odd bit of tech, this story could be set in the exact same era that the first one was.  It even finds a sly way to slip series stalwart Bruce Campbell in there without overshadowing the proceedings.  That’s no mean feat in these days of half-assed remakes, and the filmmakers deserve a big round of applause for it.  Hit the jump for my full review.

evil-dead-blu-ray-coverTheir biggest conceit is, frankly, a quiet piece of genius, framing the franchise’s basic scenario in an entirely new light. The quintet of young people who arrive in that lonely cabin aren’t there for relaxation or to party. They’re helping a friend through drug addiction. She wants to kick her habit cold turkey, which means her buddies get to strap her to a bed and help her sweat it out without anywhere to run. It also means that when some numbskull reads the book in the basement with “DO NOT READ THIS” practically scrawled on every page, the resulting evil spirits have a rational explanation to serve as cover. When the junkie shows up babbling about how a tree raped her, everybody says “sure it did” and gets on with their evening. Indeed, the whole film could be viewed as a fever dream experienced by its detoxing protagonist (Jane Levy), an alternate way of examining the plot that lets it handle multiple viewings quite well.

More importantly, it gives this Evil Dead a distinctiveness that sets it apart (though not above) its predecessors. With the first two films essentially repeating the same scenario, it’s up to this new version to find its own identity. That it does quite well, thanks mainly to the core conceit but with help the stalwart direction of Fede Alvarez. He succeeds at the very difficult task of making this film his own without losing sight of the franchise ethos, an assurance aided by Raimi as one of the producers but also reflecting a confidence that bodes well for his future in the genre.

evil-dead-shiloh-fernandez-jessica-lucas-lou-taylor-pucciEvil Dead carries the expected array of shocks and splats, but with more panache than one expects: keeping its goals firmly in mind and refusing to be undone by the pressure.  As gore-fests go, it’s as heavy-duty as they come. If this one can’t pull the NC-17 rating then said rating truly doesn’t exist. It deliberately aims away from the broad slapstick of Evil Dead 2, with the scares coming first and the humor a distant second. That’s in keeping with our cynical times, but it never surrenders to pointless nihilism either. And with cheap remakes clogging every corner of the multiplex these days, it’s enough that it can do its job with a little self respect, never riding on the coattails of its predecessor and finding some interesting new ways to look at the property as a result. In a year as bleak for horror movies as this one, we’ll take what we can find. Evil Dead never betrays our trust and quietly adds to a very impressive legacy in the bargain.

The Blu-ray features impressive audio and video quality: a far cry from the original’s gritty drive-in look, but par for the course in this day and age. The special features are about average: a fun commentary with the director, writer and cast; a discussion of the original film; several short behind the scenes features and a bevy of previews. It’s not grand, but it does the job… kind of like the film itself.




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  • Tommy Klebanoff

    This film was just okay for me. Fede Alvarez delivered on the gore but he didn’t include any of the surreal freakout elements from the first film (when the house comes to life… the blood dripping over the projector and the pixilated phonograph). This was Fede’s choice but I think it makes for a far less memorable film. By abandoning the intangible horrors… he has to rely completely on the physical ones… and sadly they didn’t deliver. The makeup on the demons themselves was just so-so (seriously who greenlit those bargain bin contact lenses) and they did not have any distinct personalities… such as Linda’s laughing doll in the first film. The “threats” the demons spoke were also pretty laughable considering that the original Exorcist already abused profanity in 1973.

    Overall… not a bad film. I just found it to have very little personality, charm, or style… the three things that really shine in Raimi’s film.

    Also the musical score did not fit. It was too overblown and well-produced. LoDuca’s score for the original added to the sense of isolation by using minimalism to its advantage. It literally sounds like one synthesizer, a piano, and a violin. This had a full choir and orchestra… not to mention that bizarrely out of place air-raid siren sample. Musically it was fine but conceptually it reminded me that I was watching a larger production.

    Just my two cents. Would still give the film a 6 or 6.5 out of 10.

    • John

      I was feeling the same way about the lack of “craziness”, until the last 20 minutes. The blood monsoon was just incredible, both visually and as an intense horror setpiece. That scene made the movie.

      Also, the makeup effects were incredible… especially considering it was all done in camera,

    • John

      I was feeling the same way about the lack of “craziness”, until the last 20 minutes. The blood monsoon was just incredible, both visually and as an intense horror setpiece. That scene made the movie.

      Also, the makeup effects were incredible… especially considering it was all done in camera,

      • Tommy Klebanoff

        Visually the blood monsoon was pretty great… but the final demon who arose was also not much of a threat. S/he just kinda slithered around and then got stabbed in the face with a chainsaw. Probably the best scene of the film… but for me it couldn’t quite make up for the rest.

    • John

      I was feeling the same way about the lack of “craziness”, until the last 20 minutes. The blood monsoon was just incredible, both visually and as an intense horror setpiece. That scene made the movie.

      Also, the makeup effects were incredible… especially considering it was all done in camera,

    • rhizomeman

      Totally disagree – new version superior. The score was minimalist because there was no money to hire players. It was one guy.

  • rhizomeman

    I liked this better than the original. I saw the original first a few weeks before I saw this. That original did not age very well. Usually people applaud the original as superior. I think this is an example of the reverse.

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