If there was ever one genre that gets a pass more than others’, it’s horror. And I guess that’s OK given the type of stories that wind up on the big screen. I mean, when you’re dealing with supernatural entities, all reality is pretty much thrown out the window; sometimes literary, but if it makes your skin crawl, the director is probably doing his job. And while “Evil Dead” may not be perfect, it does hold you your attention, which is why it’s the perfect DVD to grab this Halloween.
The story here, like so many others within this genre, starts in the woods when a group of friends gather to help one of their own, Mia (Jane Levy), beat an addiction to heroin. The idea was to essentially stay in this remote cabin and purge this drug that was destroying her life. An honorable concept until an ancient Latin passage is read from a book that was sealed shut with barb wire. A book we later find out could not even be destroyed by fire. Hmmm, might not have been a good idea to open that, but they did, unleashing a fury of unexplained events trumping any drug intervention that was due to take place. At first, they couldn’t see it; given the evil spirit’s first victim just happened to be Mia, who was prone to hallucinations. So, naturally it took some more obvious signs to surface before the friends realized something else was going. Something far darker than drug addiction and something that was about to take every one of their lives, if they didn’t follow very specific rules laid out in the recently freed Book of the Dead. It was then, this story moved into overdrive with victim after victim falling leading to a conclusion that will make you want to stand up and cheer.
No one special is in this one, which in my opinion was the best decision they could have made given the genre. Because the last thing this kind of film needs is some distraction of a “name” starring in it, so I was glad co-writer/director Fede Alvarez was smart enough to go with a no-name cast. He and producer Sam Raimi knew where the focus should have been, which only allowed you to appreciate the characters that much more. Sounds crazy, but it worked as I was drawn into the suspense of this outrageous scenario that was unfolding in this secluded cabin in the woods. With that said, I do have to lift up one performance, one I never expected to impress me after the opening sequence of events. But, Jane Levy won me over in this film with all her ups and downs playing Mia. Maybe it was just the character, but I think Levy sold this role better than people will give her credit for. It’s not easy to keep that creepy factor steady, but Levy did it for the better part of this film proving to me she is a lot more than what you see on her weekly TV show Suburgatory. So, I look forward to seeing more from her in the future, as those eyes should secure some fairly dynamic roles.
For anyone thinking you need CGI and new-age technology to make a horror film worthwhile, meet Fede Alvarez. He not only reached down into the unknown of this genre, he spun this unique, yet familiar story on its head with some incredible cinematography and effects. And it wasn’t just how it looked; it was about the process of it, which only helped it feel that much more proficient. So, I commend Alvarez and his co-writer Diablo Cody for creating a story that below the surface is much more than advertised when put to vivid sequences like the one’s shot here. I couldn’t get over just how great this film looked at times due to the lighting or camera angle. It was impressive and so unexpected, which made it all the better to endure. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it’s a horror film, so you still have to take it at face value. Because if you do, I have no doubt you too will be blown away by what this film was at its core and what it accomplishes in reinventing a beloved franchise like Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead.”
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