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Fans have been clamoring for another Evil Dead movie from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell for years with internet message boards and discussions at conventions speculating as to when and in what form the new movie might take, and all along Raimi and company have been either dismissive of the possibility or rather coy regarding any insight into their ideas for a follow-up. Well, earlier this year fans got their answer--a remake of the original film produced by Raimi, Robert Tapert and Campbell, and with no Ash character. Feel free to insert whatever collective groan or The Price Is Right losing tune you like here.

 Evil Dead
But hey, remakes aren't all bad and I'm not turning this into some diatribe about their evils. My only problem with them is that I'd rather see the huge amounts of money these films cost to produce go towards the production of new, fresh ideas instead of movies that are being made largely based on their name recognition for marketing purposes. No matter how bad or ill received the latest redo of a popular movie may be it still doesn't taint the original that's likely occupying a place on your DVD shelf, still sitting there untouched by whatever horrible injustices that new version has brought upon it in your mind.

2013's Evil Dead follows the same basic premise as the original that sees a group of friends visiting a cabin in the middle of nowhere stumble upon an evil book that unleashes soul swallowing demons, and for better or worse that's where the similarities pretty much end. For instance, this time they're in the middle of nowhere for an actual reason other than a weekend of frolicking about the woods, and this small change and the dynamic it brings to the story and the relationships between the characters works in the picture's favor. You see, main character Mia (Jane Levy) is a drug addict looking to kick her habit (presumably from heroin), and she has traveled to this remote location with a couple of her friends and her estranged brother in tow so that they can watch over her while she goes through detox. But wouldn't you know it, somebody finds a book full of witchcraft mumbo jumbo and unleashes unspeakable evil, and Mia is the first to succumb to its effects. Naturally the rest of the group see her strange and paranoid behavior as the effects of withdrawals, but they realize only too late that what they're dealing with is far more insidious and deadly. I'm not going to divulge anymore than that, but you can probably guess where the rest of the story goes from there anyways.

 Evil Dead
Like I said, I really liked this small yet substantial change to the story, but from there on out I can't say I was totally on board with the rest of what the movie had to offer. Evil Dead is graphic with a capital G and pushes the boundaries of its given R-rating so close to the limit that I can see why they didn't bother releasing an uncut version on home video, but for all the severed limbs and buckets of blood on display not once was it frightening. I kept waiting and waiting to be jolted in my seat, but the moment never came and the credits rolled. The end. I guess that's all fine and dandy if all you're in it for is the gore factor, but I really wanted something a little more from this one, and well, you just don't get it. Also missing is any semblance of a sense of humor, and everything is played so serious and uptight that once the film starts rolling it's more grueling than entertaining. I know drug addiction is no laughing matter, most of the time, but come on. It's like watching a high wire act that goes on for 90-minutes--everything's ratcheted up so tight that there's no letting up from one moment to the next, which makes it pretty exhausting in the end.

It might be unfair to compare this Evil Dead to the ones that have been studied and enjoyed for decades now, but it's in those key failings that lies the difference between a movie that's entertaining on several levels and one that works primarily to gross out the audience. The new Evil Dead is a slick production with fine performances, a standout musical score and some outstanding effects work, but it's missing everything else that made Raimi's films work and remain so memorable, such as the inventive camera work, frenetic and energetic pacing and a goofball sense of humor, and it's weaker for it. Now having said that I wouldn't have wanted Alvarez to simple try and ape Raimi's style of filmmaking and attempt a carbon copy of those films either, but this Evil Dead still needed to work within its own confines and it just narrowly missed the mark. It certainly doesn't help matters that little over a year ago Cabin in the Woods was released and largely satirized exactly the type of film Evil Dead is aiming to be, and quite frankly it turned out to be the much more entertaining film.

 Evil Dead
Video
Sony Picture Home Entertainment's AVC encoded, 1080p video presentation of Evil Dead on Blu-ray is outstanding, with the key ingredient here the deep, dark and consistent black levels that bathe the film. Image detail too is very fine with plenty of nice touches that are plainly visible, contrast is held nicely and though the film has a slightly desaturated look, colors are well represented and pop when they're meant to. I couldn't detect much if anything in the way of defects going on with the transfer such as aliasing, artifacting, macro-blocking or edge enhancement, and what banding there is going on with the transfer occurs in very few instances and really to the point that you'll be hard pressed to notice. Being a newly released theatrical film and shot digitally, there aren't any defects present that might pop up from damage to the source print. Overall this is a great way to watch the film.

Audio
Likewise, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's included lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is a great example of a horror soundtrack done right. There's definitely a lot going on here for your surround and LFE channels to take advantage of, whether it's a creak in the cellar steps or a howling demon screaming bloody murder across the screen. The film is impeccably mixed, and the sound effects, outstanding score from composer Roque Baños and dialogue are easily heard and understood in crystal clear clarity when appropriate. To top it off, I also didn't notice any defects in the audio track that would take one out of the film. Overall this is an excellent audio presentation of the film on Blu-ray.

 Evil Dead
Extras
First up is a commentary track featuring Director Fede Alvarez, Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Jessica Lucas that is lively and informative. Nearly all aspects of the production from the casting, shooting and post-production are covered in fairly decent detail here and fans of the picture should find a lot to like.

Next up are a series of featurettes, headed up by Fede Alvarez discussing his process as director of the film ("Directing the Dead", 7 min.), as well as the cast talking about working with the director. "Evil Dead the Reboot" (10 min.) is the most rounded of the included features and includes producers talking points from Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell, Alvarez, and the cast as they discuss the road to bringing this version of Evil Dead to screen, including the idea behind doing a remake as opposed to another sequel, some of the references to the original found in the film and the removal of Campbell's Ash as a character.

Actor Jane Levy and Alvarez are up to bat again for the featurette "Making Life Difficult" (8 min.) and talk about just how physically demanding the film was to make. This same subject matter is again discussed in a video diary feature, "Being Mia" (9 min.) with Levy discussing her character through interviews and some behind the scenes material. The last featurette included on the disc ("Unleashing the Evil Force", 5 min.) is a look at the infamous "Book of the Dead" used in the picture. Also included on the disc are previews for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment titles and an UltraViolet digital copy. While this collection of extras doesn't come with an all inclusive making-of documentary and Sam Raimi is nowhere to be found, what is included is a nice batch of features that fans will want to dig into.

 Evil Dead
Overall
If all you're looking for out of this new Evil Dead is to be grossed out then you'll want to check it out as fast as you can. For anyone else who might be looking for something a little bit more out their horror flicks there's a long list of other, recent movies that I might recommend, including Cabin in the Woods and Raimi's own Drag Me to Hell. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Blu-ray presentation certainly does fans of the film justice by offering up some great video and audio as well as a good bit of worthwhile extras to listen to, view and enjoy. Overall I'd recommend a purchase for the gorehounds among us, but for everyone else one viewing might be enough.

The images above were taken from the Blu-ray disc and full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of  each transfer.



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