A reboot of the old horror franchise, and incidental sequel, Evil Dead is one of the best horror films we have seen in a long time. The story follows a group of friends trying to get Mia (Jane Levy) to kick her heroin addiction. After making a dramatic announcement after taking her friends to a cabin in the woods, Mia asks her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) to be there, who brings his new girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Her friend Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is cynical, explaining that Mia did something equally as dramatic previously, whilst Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) is just amazed that David is there. Mia starts smelling evil things and so tries to escape. She crashes the car, gets raped by a tree (?!) and then ends up being possessed by a demon that Eric lets out of a book after he and David start trying to get rid of the dead bodies buried under the floor. From there it gets weird and gross, as the possessed Mia tries to kill everyone in the cabin to allow the Abomination to come through to this plane of existence.
Evil Dead is an excellent horror film because it does not confine itself to being just gory, relying on the horrors of possession or grossing us out in as many ways possible or even just by having things jump out at us unexpectedly – it balances all these things and pulls on various horror themes to scare the hell out of the audience, which it does astonishingly well. Any horror fan will be able to tell you when something is going to jump out, and even someone who has a particular penchant for supernatural horror can guess at what happens, but even knowing what is going on won’t make the image of Olivia carving her jaw to the bone, Eric pulling a nail from his eye, or Mia pulling her hand off leave your mind easily.
Ok so let’s do this quickly – old Evil Dead versus new Evil Dead: the first one in the series is obviously the one that everyone recalls first, but because of the lack of technology during the making of the original, things weren’t as horrible as they could have been now. Some items like Mia getting raped by the thorny tree are current with what happened in the original, where Cheryl gets assaulted, but others are different, like Mia using the chainsaw to kill the creature, whereas in the original it was Ash. These changes don’t make a whole heap of difference in the grand scheme of things, other than to make the story creepier and the feel of the film as a whole nastier and more horrific – Cheryl’s rape was laughable, whereas Mia’s was stomach churning, and Ash had a splattering of blood with his chainsaw, compared to Mia who was revelling in it cascading from the heavens.
The biggest issue we have with this film, and the only one that stuck with us as we left the cinema, was the fact that Eric gets stabbed with glass as well as a knife, shot with a shotgun and a nail-gun and is still able to keep going. Now with a film like Evil Dead you have to expect some sort of superhuman activities, so Natalie hacking off her arm and not passing out, or David being chucked around like a ragdoll by a very disgruntled off demon is to be expected, however there is a limit. There’s a faint whiff of overkill about it, guys.
There is however excellent character work, fantastic levels of gore (we loved the touch of chunks of vomit still being in Olivia’s hair after Mia vomited blood all over her face and down her throat), and it’s genuinely utterly disturbing to the end. Evil Dead is one horror reboot we will happily endorse.
Evil Dead is available to watch in cinemas now.