I’m glad I was able to catch the Evil Dead reboot on the tailend of its run on the Ayala Malls this afternoon. I had a feeling that it was going to be good, based on the original version released in 1981 and boy was I right! It had a different flavor to it compared to the Sam Raimi classic but one thing’s for sure. This was one utterly sick and seriously twisted horror movie. I kid you not.
The film is loosely based on Evil Dead, which spawned the well received trilogy in the 80s culminating in Army of Darkness, one of my favorite classics. The team behind the original movie, including former director Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who played the iconic character of Ash were still involved in the reboot acting as producers of the film.
The story begins when a group of five friends go up to an old cabin owned by the family of estranged siblings David and Mia, a drug addict who asks her friends for support when she decides to go cold turkey on her habit. But when the group uncovers weird ritualistic items in the cellar of the cabin, including a sealed copy of Naturon Demonto (Book of Evil), they accidentally unleash a demon that soon possesses the body of Mia. Worse, an Abomination from Hell will be released if the demon consumes the souls of five people.
I must say, I was completely blown away by this version. It is rare that one can be surprised from a reboot of a classic that half the world has seen three decades ago but this flick manages to do just that. It presents the story in a different way and makes it a new experience for the viewers, old fans of franchise and the new crowd who have no idea what the fuss is about.
What made it stand out, I believe, was that from the get go, the scenes were already so intense. There were no traces of campiness or comedy (which worked great for the original) found in any of the scenes. This was a great indication that newcomer director Fede Alvarez (who was handpicked by Sam Raimi to helm the movie) meant serious business in breathing new life to this franchise.
As the film progressed, I became more impressed by the way the film integrated classic scenes from the old version to the new film, while at the same time establishing its own trademark. Jane Levy (Suburgatory, Funsize) was an excellent choice to take the part of Mia — from playing a rebellious drug addict, to a vulnerable sister, to a demon crazed psychopath, she transitioned so well and did justice to all aspects of her character that she deserves a great big pat on the back for pulling off such a difficult task. Another standout was Lou Taylor Pucci, who played Eric, who was supposed to be the geeky dude, being a schoolteacher and all. But the way things played out, he shot up to my list of dudes not to be messed with in the movies. He literally was hard to kill, more difficult to put down than Die Hard’s John McClane. Remember that we are talking of demons here, the devourer of souls no less. And standing up to demons is seriously badass territory. Shiloh Hernandez (Red Riding Hood), who played David, retained some of the traits of Ash’s character (his counterpart)– his indecisiveness and his denial that resulted in a lot of delays, and a lot of deaths.
Evil Dead played like a horror by numbers and employed every tactic in the book. Coupled with the recycled plotline, it should have been unremarkable, except that it was not. The filmmakers laid down the gore — dismemberment, blood by the buckets, decapitation, tree rape (yes, tree rape), burning, stabbing, shooting, vomiting, any disgusting thing that one can think of, and laid it on so thick that I, along with many members of the audience were cringing for the better part of the movie, shocked, terrified, disgusted but completely involved.
All in all, Evil Dead is a hard core horror movie. It prides itself in making audiences squirm in their seats, scream, scaring them silly that they are bound to have nightmares for weeks to come. It was a cringe-worthy gorefest that distinguishes itself from its predecessor by being bold and twisted, and daring to spin a classic to something fresh and relateable to a new market.