Director:- Fede Alvarez
Starring:- Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Picci
Runtime:- 1hr 33mins
Re-visiting the 1981 horror classic The Evil Dead was always going to be a gamble. Perhaps as risky as reading from a skin-clad book wrapped in barb-wire and discarded in a basement room filled with animal sacrifices. The original is worthy of its cult status, a bizarre blend of pitch-black comedy and blood-red scares. It follows in the footsteps of other horror heavyweights such as Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which have all had a facelift in recent years. Those remakes proved to be cynical cash-ins of the loved originals. Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez is the man tasked with making sure Evil Dead does not follow suit.
Alvaraz seems intent on putting his own stamp on the film, whilst maintaining the key elements from the original. Bruce Campbell’s Ash- the iconic hero from the first film- is gone, but his chainsaw, shotgun and red Delta 88 can still be found at the all too familiar cabin. Dropping in nostalgic nods to the original is not enough to make a successful remake however, and this latest version is lacking the key elements of Raimi’s film to make it a classic. The original Evil Dead was a success due to the careful marrying of gruesome, supernatural terror with a sharp and subtle sense of humour helped largely by leading man Campbell’s charisma and flair for physical comedy.
Alvarez depicts his horror with a straight-face. It is not helped by a dour script and forgettable characters, although an honourable mention must go to Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric, who seems to have superpowers with all the torture he withstands throughout. A lack of comedy could be forgiven, if the scares were up to scratch. But these too are sadly misjudged, with the director relying on cheap shocks based on body disfigurement as opposed to genuine frights. It is The Evil Dead made for the Saw generation, more concerned about making the audience feel queasy than terrified, modern horror filmmaker would do well to remember there’s a difference. Some striking visuals and genuinely shocking scenes do place it head and shoulders above other recent horror remakes, but it still falls a long way short when compared to its namesake. For better or for worse, it is not the nightmare it could have been.