The original Evil Dead is considered a classic in the world of horror films and the movie is constantly referenced to this day. So when a remake by newcomer Fede Alvarez was announced, you can imagine the skepticism by horror fans over someone remaking the classic. Upon release, the 2013 version actually received positive reviews, though the Fede Alvarez vehicle never reached the heights of the 1983 original; however, considering that remakes tend to suck most of the time, the 2013 version could easily be considered one of the best remakes of all time. So, is the Evil Dead remake actually good? Hell, could it actually be better than the Sam Raimi version? I’ll clear that the latter question up now, no. However, upon deeper analysis, the Evil Dead remake is actually a pretty good remake. This time, the remake follows Mia, a drug addict, who tries to finally kick the habit. She gains the help of her brother, his girlfriend, Natalie, and their friends Olivia and Eric; however, during the stay in a remote cabin, Eric finds a mysterious Book of the dead and reads it out loud. From that moment on, all hell breaks loose when a devilish entity possesses Mia. Look, any movie where someone is possessed because a tree violated their private parts is a winner in my book.
All jokes aside, the set-up for the remake is actually pretty strong. Having Mia being a drug addict gives her a huge obstacle to overcome, which in turn makes her character relatable because of the challenges that lie ahead. Of course, the big negative of the Evil Dead remake is the serious tone. While it’s great that Alvarez has opted to take his own rote here, the dark and offbeat humor of the original is sorely missed. Given the premise of the reboot, the new Evil Dead still works with some funny one-liners; After all how could not laugh at “Mia’s not here, you fucking idiot! Your little sister’s being raped in Hell!”. Going back to Mia, Jane Levy, who was also the lead for the tremendous horror film Don’t Breathe, is perfect as the drug addict. It’s truly rare that horror movie characters really get something to chew on; however, this role requires Levy to pull off multiple personalities and emotions, ranging from over-the-top (when she’s possessed) to a damaged soul trying to get over her drug habit. Levy simply gets the role and seamlessly plays each part with ease. The supporting characters serve their purpose for the lead protagonist, but since most of them are there to die or be possessed, they don’t get much of a chance to really shine in this remake.
That’s not saying that anyone is bad. Jessica Lucas’s Olivia cutting off her cheek off is a gruesome scene; however, one of the reasons it works is due to the performance of both her and Lou Taylor Pucci. It’s a scene that manages to be gory, brutal, and terrifying. It helps that Alvarez’s confident direction and the score elevate the scene. Thankfully, this group of pretty horror characters stays away from the cliche horror tropes, like the original Evil Dead film. Another huge thing about the Evil Dead remake is the amount of gore. Though to be fair, when you stick a chainsaw in a possessed entity’s mouth, then buckets of blood are bound to spill eventually. Oddly enough, the big dose of blood used in the film helps with the atmosphere. When Mia is drenched in blood for the final confrontation against the possessed entity, it signals the darkness brewing for both characters. Just like Mia is trying to kick her addiction to drugs, the dark cloud represents another struggle she has to overcome in order to save her life. Evil Dead is by no means a character-driven piece, nor is Mia on the same level as Ash; however, I do appreciate Alvarez crafting a well-developed protagonist.
The scares come at the level of the amount of gore you can handle. If Olivia cutting off her cheek or Natalie sawing off her arm doesn’t bother you too much, then you likely shrugged the film off once the end credits rolled. Other than that, Evil Dead isn’t a particularly scary movie. However, the original wasn’t either. That’s why the off-the-wall humor worked so well because Raimi understood the type of film that he was making. Alvarez clearly does too, but no one will ever put the 2013 Evil Dead on their top scares list, especially since most modern horror films contain over-the-top and grotesque gore. As previously stated, Evil Dead is a good film. It’s not better than the original, but it never tries to be. It stands on its own two legs and the movie successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do.