When I went to see Texas Chainsaw 3D in theaters back in January, I was treated to a trailer for Evil Dead. From that moment, I was simply beyond excited to see this flick. Additionally, I knew that it wouldn’t be one that I’d be waiting for a DVD release. The opening happened to coincide with a weekend where ScareTissue co-founder Pip and I would be together so for the first time in years, we got to take in a horror movie together. What we got, I’m happy to say, was outstanding.
SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve not seen this and you worry about knowing the plot stop reading. You’ve been warned.
Evil Dead opens with a young girl being captured in the middle of the woods by two guys when the throw a bag over her head and knock her out. She wakes tied to a post in a dark room surrounded by a group of people including her father who are saying that her soul needs to be cleansed. She pleads to her father but then it’s revealed that she’s in fact possessed. Her father pours oil / gasoline over her head, lights her on fire and proceeds to shoot her in the face.
After this prologue, we’re shown a group of friends getting together at a cabin deep in the middle of the woods. They’re there to help Mia (Jane Levy) detox on what apparently is her latest drug addiction. The group includes her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) who’s a nurse which will become important later. Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) are also along for the weekend. They go through a ceremony where Mia dumps her stash down a well and everything is peachy for a while. As she starts to go through withdrawal / detox, Mia escapes the cabin, crashes her car and runs into the woods.
During this, Eric finds his way into the cabin’s basement where he finds animal carcasses hanging from the ceiling and the post where the gal was burned in the prologue. In addition, he finds a book labeled The Necronomicon which is wrapped in barbed wire and has warnings written all over it to not open. Naturally, he ignores said warnings which thereby releases a demon. Meanwhile, Mia who wandering through the woods is attacked and possessed by the demon. Possessed Mia returns to the cabin and warns her friends that they won’t survive the night. Her skin has turned pale and her eyes are yellow but the group doesn’t believe her babbling as they believe it is detox induced. Mia attacks Olivia and pukes all over her, possessing her as well. Olivia proceeds to shatter a mirror and begins cutting off her face with the mirror shards.
Eric (the asshole who opened the book to begin with) enters the bathroom trying to find out what is happening to her and she attacks him. He manages to bash her skull in with a piece of the broken toilet. The group now determines that Mia has been possessed and that in order to free her soul they need to kill her. They throw her in the cellar to and her “normal” voice returns and she pleas for help. This naturally is a trick to lure them down which they do. Natalie goes down into the cellar where Mia attacks her and proceeds to cut her own tongue in half with a box cutter (very cool effect). She then pukes into Natalie’s mouth and bites her hand. Natalie escapes the cellar but feels the infection spreading up her arm. She decides to cut off her own arm mid-bicep with an electric knife (think Thanksgiving dinner trimming the turkey).
Eric finally gets around to explaining this book to the remainder of the group, and shares that the demon, now known as The Abomination, needs to eat five souls so he can come back to the land of the living. (Mia, Olivia & Natalie so far if you’re keeping score at home). Eric and David decide that in order to free Mia and kill the demon, they either need to burn her alive, bury her alive or dismember her. A now possessed Natalie attacks and mortally wounds Eric but David saves the day by using a nail gun to kill her. VERY cool scene here where Natalie comes out of her possession momentarily only to ask “Why does my face hurt?” after he sends several nails into her face with the gun.
David has a MacGyver like thought of burying Mia alive and then resuscitating her. He buries her and after she dies he digs her up and brings her back to life with a home made defibrillator. David re-enters the cabin only to be stabbed in the neck by a now possessed Eric. David sacrifices himself to save Mia by shooting a gasoline can which burns the entire cabin.
Outside, it starts to rain blood as the Abomination returns. Mia runs from the demon and during the chase grabs a chainsaw. Mia hides under the Jeep outside and manages to cut off the legs of Abomination. Mia tries to run but the demon tips the Jeep over and traps Mia’s arm under the fallen Jeep. As the Abomination crawls toward Mia, she attempts to grab the chainsaw which is just out of arm’s reach. In order to reach it, she is forced to pull her own hand off. The now one-handed Mia manages to restart the chainsaw and kills the demon with a chainsaw to the mouth / head cutting it in half. The Abomination sinks back into the ground, the blood rain stops and the sun comes out ending the flick. The parting shot is the book laying on the ground outside of the cabin.
After the credits, which contain audio from the original Evil Dead talking about the history of the book, Ash (Bruce Campbell) shows up and says, “Grooovy!” and then turns to the audience.
The acting here is pretty solid. Mia (Jane Levy) is super creepy and goes back and forth between being possessed and normal quite nicely. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) is an intellectual who’s too smart for his own good. Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is the first one to die so she doesn’t have a ton of screen time. She’s hot but I’m not sure I got the “registered nurse” vibe from her. Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) is the last remaining male in the cast and he’s a little too “pretty” for me. The best way I can describe him is if you think of Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers. How’s that for a weird reference? That being said, I was super bummed when he died so I suppose he did his job. His girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) plays admirably as well. When she cuts off her arm… WOW. Great scene.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the cast really. There’s nothing that’s really stand out here (with the possible exception of Jane Levy) but there’s also nothing that’s really terrible which has a tendency to happen in horror movies. Just cause I’m a typical male, I would have preferred if we got one SMOKING hot chick in a supporting role, but I can’t say anything negative about the cast that we did get. Now that I type this a super hot chick might have actually taken me out of the flick.
THE KILLS & EFFECTS
The last couple of movies that I’ve seen and reviewed for ScareTissue have been pretty weak when it came to blood, guts and gore. It’s almost as if the horror Gods knew that and gave me just what I was looking for. This is a bloody good time with some EPIC visuals. Right out of the gate we get a kid tied to a post who’s burnt alive before being shot in the face with a shotgun… by her father. If that doesn’t tell you that the gore factor is going to be turned up a notch nothing will. Olivia’s face cutting scene was awesome, as was her death when she gets her head bashed in. Mia essentially gets demon raped while being hung in a tree and is puking blood a couple of times. I mentioned it in my review but the scene where Natalie cuts off her own arm is brutal and the tongue slicing scene that showed up in the trailer was INTENSE. The scene toward the end where Mia ripped off her hand was a bit hokey but that was quickly followed up by one of my favorite kills in a long time when she shoved a chainsaw through the Abomination’s face. That was a shout out loud moment for me. LOVE IT.
All of this gore is done WITHOUT the use of CGI. Director Fede Alvarez said, “We didn’t do any CGI in the movie. Everything that you will see is real, which was really demanding. This was a very long shoot, 70 days of shooting at night. There’s a reason people use CGI; it’s cheaper and faster, I hate that. We researched a lot of magic tricks and illusion tricks.” How fucking cool is that? Even if you didn’t plan on seeing this movie I’d suggest you do just to check out some old school movie making. The film had originally received a NC-17 rating and had to be cut which means there’s MORE blood and guts headed our way in a director’s cut. Nice.
If you’re a horror fan you NEED to see this movie. I didn’t really mention during my review that this is a remake / reboot of the 1981 classic The Evil Dead. That’s because this film really does stand on its own. From the word go the audience knows they’re in for a treat as the film really doesn’t pull any punches. There were a couple of times in there I found myself scratching my head and not quite knowing what was going on, but aside from those few moments, this was just a thrilling and gory ride. I read a quote saying Evil Dead was, “The most unrelenting and bloody horror film to come out of a major studio in a very long time,” and that’s a perfect statement. There was plenty of blood and guts for the gore hounds and I did jump in my seat at least once that I can remember. For fans of the original there’s enough callbacks there to keep you happy but it’s different enough where the remake was definitely worth it. The more time that passes since I saw the movie, the more I enjoyed it. Strongest of recommends.
Have you seen Evil Dead? What’d you think?