The poster for this film very boldly states that this is “The most terrifying film you will ever experience”. I don’t know that my horror education has led me to believe that this is the most terrifying film I have ever experienced, but it may very well be the goriest. Fede Alvarez leaves very little to the imagination in his 2013 revamp of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”. The film follows five friends who join one another at a remote cabin where one of them is trying to kick a drug habit. Her brother, who hasn’t been around much over the years, comes out as a part of the group to help her out. She literally throws her stash down into a well and declares that she is going cold turkey. She quickly acts out, and her friends think that she is experiencing withdrawals from the drug addiction, but the soon find out that it is much more than that. An ancient book of evil has been unearthed, and the five at the cabin soon face that evil head on when one of the five summons the evil by reciting some of the book’s contents.
I grew up on classic horror. Aside from the older Bela Lugosi section of the genre, my education came from Kubrick, Craven, Carpenter, and Raimi just to name a few. I don’t know that there is a lot of originality left in storytelling and filmmaking, as much as there is re-inventing. That is what takes place here. This film does not have as much of the campy feel that its predecessor boasted, but rather displays more of a shock factor, and a somewhat more well thought out story. There are several scenes in this film that will leave even the most seasoned horror fan questioning if they should have eaten just before viewing it. Alvarez wanted to stay away from CGI and give the viewer a lot more intense, realistic experience. I shudder when I say that he achieved that at a very high level. I am going to stay away from spoilers in this review, and let you (if it’s your thing) go see this for yourself.
My cousin (whom I went and saw the film with) offered up a really interesting interpretation to the story. Mia (Jane Levy) who is kicking her drug habit, shows all the signs of addiction to her drug. She shows signs of hope, and definite signs of withdrawal, and throughout the film we see this progression through her desired change. As a part of the process (as with any drug user trying to kick the habit) she literally faces her demons, and has to conquer those before she can truly be free. It makes perfect sense if you watch the film from this perspective. The original film does not take this approach, and we don’t get a lot of backstory on this book of evil like we do this time around. If you are a fan of the original, there is a fun tidbit to wait for after the credits.
While I appreciate some of the elements of this film, including a new way to present this story, I don’t know that I can say I liked it. It’s akin to a really bad car accident in that what you are seeing is making you sick, but you can’t look away. This one belongs to the die hard horror film addicts. And that is just fine.
– David B. Harrington