Directed by Fede Alvarez, EVIL DEAD is a soft reboot of the 1981 original, THE EVIL DEAD, and is also the fourth instalment in the franchise. EVIL DEAD follows Mia (Jane Levy), her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and their three friends Eric, Olivia and Natalie (Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore) as they spend the night in an abandoned log cabin in the woods, to help Mia recover from a long-term drug addiction. Upon their arrival, Eric discovers a ‘Book of the Dead’ and unwittingly summons dormant demons inhabiting the woods.
Suffering from withdrawal symptoms and hallucinations, Mia tries to persuade David to take her home, but he refuses, causing her to run off and steal his car. In a frenzied state, Mia is seen driving away, but then swerves to avoid hitting a girl who appears in the road. She crashes the car in a nearby lake, and tries to make her way back to the road but becomes entangled in branches and tree roots. The branches, seemingly being used by the supernatural forces, attack Mia and we infer that a demonic presence enters her body, using her as a vessel. Her friends find her in the woods and bring her back to the cabin to tend to her wounds, under the impression that she is hallucinating and lying about what she has seen. Intrigued by its words and illustrations, Eric continues to read through the Book of the Dead, causing himself and his friends to be attacked one by one by various demonic entities. Mia is left to fight alone, battling her own personal demons as well as the physical ones.
As a fan of the original THE EVIL DEAD, this film was a disappointment for me. It was extremely cliché and I found that it was not as scary as it was advertised. Aside from Mia and David, the characters were boring, but I feel that all of them lacked originality. Even Mia’s final line, “feast on this, motherf**ker!” was anticipated as soon as she crawled out of the cabin with a chainsaw. I really wanted more ‘oomph’ with this reboot, I wanted more twists and surprises. I mean, you’d think that after 32 years of being dormant, the demons might have thought of better ways to kill their hosts?!
Compared to the 80’s classic, EVIL DEAD is no match, in my opinion. Although the special effects in this film are much better, THE EVIL DEAD was quite ahead of its time I feel, and had much more to play around with and be creative with. EVIL DEAD is just gore, stained teeth and black eye contacts, easy Halloween costumes if you ask me. Director and writer Fede Alvarez has improved himself slightly since then, with DON’T BREATHE (2016) also starring Jane Levy, but has not been hailed as a huge success, again, despite advertising.
The one thing I do like about this film is the cringe-factor. Although the gore effects are horrendous, the concept of what is happening is enough to make you squirm. The tree attack, the 127 HOURS-esque arm amputation, and forcibly pulling off your own hand? Yep, I’m going to throw up. There are also great moments of camerawork, towards the end in particular, where Mia is trapped in the walls of the cabin trying to escape. The use of close framing here really portrays the feeling of claustrophobia and entrapment, and had me cowering at the thought of being followed along the wall with a knife.
The video quality is fantastic throughout, it’s clean, well-presented and is surprisingly colourful for a horror film! The lighting used in the film is great for the video quality, especially in brighter scenes at the beginning and end which use a lot of natural light.
Resolution 2.39:1 HD Widescreen
The audio within the film is clear and crisp, with sound effects that ring in your ears for minutes after, such as the noise of the chainsaw and drill. The effects used for Mia’s voice in particular when she is possessed is very clever, and is not drowned out by background music, making her voice the sole subject of those scenes.
Audio mix 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Languages – English, Spanish, Italian)
Subtitles English, Netherlands, Spanish
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
The Blu-ray of EVIL DEAD contains bonus features also included in the DVD version, as well as exclusive Blu-ray features.
Making Life Difficult – The intensive and exhaustive creation of the film
Directing the Dead – Director Fede Alvarez on a horror classic
Being Mia – The physical and psychological transformation into Evil Mia
– Audio commentary from the cast and filmmakers
– Unleashing the Evil Force – the origins and design of the new Book of the Dead
– EVIL DEAD The Reboot – rehearsals, deadites and more!
I managed to pick up the Project Pop Art Steelbook version of EVIL DEAD, which includes some fantastic artwork from some of Gallery1988’s upcoming artists. The Blu-ray SteelBook is region-free, and is a Netherlands import, so it comes with a Project Pop Art slip cover in Dutch.
EVIL DEAD is a typical modern horror and as a remake it is predictable and disappointing. As a reboot, it’s not bad, but it will never beat Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic. If you fancy a laugh this Halloween, give it a go for sure, but if you’re like me you might want to follow it up with a horror that’s actually worthwhile.