Evil Dead (2013) (UK - BD RB)
Marcus slices his tongue with a Stanley knife for no real reason for this review...
A group of friends go to a cabin in the woods... hey, hey don’t fall asleep with mention of that over done plot device. This is Evil Dead, the daddy of the cabin in the woods films, so stick with it for a bit longer, okay? Good. Let's carry on.
So for this franchise reboot... No seriously, don't leave. You never know it might be good.
Anyway, a group of friends go to a cabin in the woods to help drug addict Mia (Jane Levy) get over her addiction. The idea is for Mia to go cold turkey in the middle of nowhere for a while and even when she hits the point of begging for a hit, the group have made a pact to stick to the plan. Even Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez)is in agreement. What could go wrong?
Umfortunatly for the group, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), reads from the Book of the Dead, a human flesh covered book that the gang found in the basement (never a smart move) and Mia begins to go nuts. Putting it down to the drugs coming out of her system the friends do their best to contain Mia but when people start dying, blood starts flowing and people start talking in demon voices, the idea that this is heroin related is quickly brushed aside and it's time to start screaming.
After years of talking about it, the original Evil Dead team, including Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell signed off on a remake. The behind the scenes talk all sounded positive, the trailers seemed well pitched (initially at least) and just when this felt like it was going to deliver on at least scares, the mixed reviews rolled in. Some touting it as "GREAT" due to its gore and intensity while others deemed it "RUBBISH" due to, well its gore and intensity. This one really seemed like one you'd have to see yourself to make up your own mind..
To me, a casual Evil Dead fan that appreciates the original's charms as opposed to celebrates them sees this remake as two films really. The first is the cliché set up of a group of kids (also known as cannon fodder) being dropped into a cabin and nasty things happen to them. That side of the movie I really thought was boring. We've just seen too much of that sort of thing in modern horror and once again they've just cast a big group of pretty people without giving us anything to really like them for besides the same old cliché character traits. Who cares if they die really? Not me that’s for sure. It’s just blood, blood, gore, blood, extreme visuals, lazy scares and screams thrown at us over and over again until you just become numb to it. It’s all effective and all properly gross when taken separately but with all this stuff combined I needed to care about who it’s happening to, to well, care about what was going on.
The other film happening here is the story of Mia, the possessed girl licking blades and spewing blood. I really thought Jane Levy delivered the goods here. Her performance seems pretty fearless and spinning possession into a girl coming off of drugs was an acceptable route to get her going into the crazys. Sadly, the plot here places Mia on hold for far too long. Dropping her in the basement while the other lifeless drones end each other in progressively more disgusting ways. However whenever she’s on screen she held my attention every single time.
Another unfortunate element for the film is that Levy is bouncing off of Shiloh Fernandez a lot of the time and he’s just not playing the best brother in the world. He’s so woefully dull to watch in this role and all the stuff where he’s burying his sister feels like it could have been something great if Levy had something more than a pretty boy with no real onscreen charisma throwing pretty unconvincing sadness and regret back at her.
I really dug Mia and where she progressed to in the film. Make no mistake, it's not like I dig Ash in the originals or anything and I couldn't care less if they did a sequel with her but Levy sold me on possessed girl and scared fighting for her life girl completely, so that’s a win in my book and I'll certailny keep an eye out for what she does next.
Now whether this small part of the movie is enough to warrant me saying I liked the film as a whole is another question? Well, I can say I didn't hate this remake like many an Evil Dead fan has told me they did but I was extremely ‘Meh’ to it once it wraps up its rain of blood. Of late ‘Meh’ is worse that hate when it comes to movies, at least hate comes with a bit a passion behind it. ‘Meh’ movies just feel like a waste of time and sure, watching this for a second time highlighted a fair few moments I like in the film and yeah I can watch it from beginning to end without ever getting too bored but it’s overall ‘Meh-ness' just makes this remake a non event for me.
There’s a sense there’s big things planned for sequels and crossing over both Evil Dead worlds in one big face off of evil down the line, which I’ll admit intrigues me but there’s just not enough in this stand alone story to warrant excitement even with it’s “Groovy” Easter egg at the end of the credits.
There’s a distinct modern HD creaminess to the visuals here, skin colours look like tea as opposed to pinky and much of the lighting outside the cabin at the start of the film never feels white, but closer to beige at times. Some of the foliage in the first act pop with wonderful HD greens and everything has super sharp edges when the exterior lighting lights it up.
Stepping inside the infamous cabin, the black levels are immediately solid. Grain is at its absolute minimal (unlike the other Evil Dead Blu-rays) and details and textures hold up even when the film is at its absolute darkest. Speaking of dark, this film is not afraid to go pitch black with a ton of shadowing and reduced lighting throughout. It’s actual a joy to see stuff like this so well handled in HD.
As the nastiness kicks off, the reds and debris on the forest floors in the rain is crisp and incredibly detailed. The attacking trees in the grubby mud looks fantastic and every bit of dirt on Mia’s skin and clothes are layered and full of texture and depth. When the blood starts to flow (and there’s a ton of it) reds leave the creamier visuals behind and deliver the bright, rich redness. Once again the details in the effects work is fantastic in HD and elements like clothing and torn skin looks like you could reach out and touch it (and cover your fingertips in blood).
For better or worse this Evil Dead flick looks like many of the modern horrors out there. Crisp and bright and sort of bland because of it but there’s nothing bland about how good the visual presentation is here.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is maybe the only actual scary thing about this remake. The film overwhelms with gore and gross visuals but it’s the sound mix that provide the jumps and the feeling of “Yuck” when limbs gets sliced or blood sprays or spews out of things.
The score makes everything feel wide and there’s a real depth to some of the show off moments of the sound design with everything from dialogue and screams rocking alongside chainsaws, blood, score and whatever else that they throw at you to get overwhelmed by the manic events happening.
This Evil Dead remake is violent as all hell and the sharp and effective audio track delivers every gnarly set piece with precision. Once again, it doesn’t sound unlike most of the other modern horrors out there which makes this all quite typical but like the visuals you can’t really knock the audio on a technical level as it’s very impressive.
The audio commentary with Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Director Fede Alvarez and writer Rodo Sayagues is a group of mixed approaches to the film. Alvarez tries to stick to the film’s themes and story, the cast like laughing and joking about the shoot and the other cast members and Sayagues only really pops in with the occasional bite here and there. It’s very scene specific and they rarely go off topic into the original films really (they barely even mention “The car” outside the cabin!). It’s not a bad track but it’s a lot of patting Alvarez on the back and him giving stories about moments as they pass. Oh and the track ends before the end of the credits appearance by a certain “Groovy” individual, so that felt like a huge cop out!
‘Directing the Dead’ (07;26 HD) focuses on the man with the impossible job of rebooting the Evil Dead franchise director Fede Alverez. He seems very much locked in on depicting real reactions as if this was a real situation as opposed to approaching the material with the wackiness the original three films have become loved for.
‘Making Life Difficult’ (08;15 HD) discusses the mental and physical demands that the film has on the cast and crew, especially when it comes to some of Jane Levy’s on set ordeals.
‘Evil Dead: The Reboot’ (09:51 HD) has producer Rob Tapert talking about his experience on the original film in 1981 and his hopes on the reboot “hitting the audience hard”. There’s talk about Bruce Campbell being the opposing force towards the idea of a reboot until Alverez popped up with his take on a revisit to the cabin in the woods and Campbell was won over. The discussion of why an Ash character was left aside for the a new generation of characters is glanced over and of course the fan pressure to “get it right” is spoken about. At the end of it all there’s a real sense all involved are happy with the outcome here and it certainly seems like the end result is the movie they all wanted to make.
‘Unleashing the Evil Force’ (05;07 HD) covers the importance of the Book of the Dead and what the book can throw at its readers along with warning notes from other victims from the book’s origins.
'Being Mia'(09:14 HD) has Jane Levy talking about her pretty extreme transformation in the film. We follow her around in a video diary and see the make up department work their magic. We also get an on set look at Levy filming her scenes he extremely brave and all out performance.
Evil Dead is more like a remake of the many wannabe horrors that the original Evil Dead spawned than a remake of the original article. Its far enough removed from the originals to say it’s its own thing but its just too much like everything else the last decade of teen horror has delivered to be considered anything more than typical. The disc itself is a stunner in visuals and audio and sell this modern horror just as you’d expect. The extras are just a notch above fluff but really only when it comes to Jane Levy’s interesting experiences on set and any mention of the original films. I really wish this film was as good as that first Red Band trailer released made it look but really that two minute teaser is all we ever really needed to see I think. Shame.
* Note: The images on this page are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 12th August 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM Stereo 2.0 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Audio Description English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Length: 91 minutes
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