Evil Dead (2013) – Horror Remake Movie Review


By Melissa Antoinette Garza


I had a pretty bad week and my husband being a very sweet person took me to see the remake of Evil Dead.  The original is one of the few films that actually terrify me.  Black Christmas (1974), The Strangers (2008), Demons (1985) and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1973) are the movies that freak me out the most.  I’ve always had a weak spot for old fashioned zombies and demons.  I’m not sure why but when the deep dark demonic voice emerges from a character, I get tense.  Even the ending of the generic but entertaining Killer Party (1986) makes me nervous.

I honestly didn’t expect the new Evil Dead to scare me.   I thought it may be a fun and freaky production but I honestly didn’t think it was going to make me look away.  I was wrong.

The movie opens with a young girl being taken captive by her father, an old woman and some townspeople.  They tie her in the basement of the cabin and set her on fire as she pleas for help.  It is only when she realizes that her father is beyond reaching, that the demon inside of her emerges.  This scene is very reminiscent of The Exorcist (1973).  My husband instantly held issue with this fact.  Though he admits the movie is good, he was upset that there was a very blatant aspect that was closer to films like The Last Exorcism (2010) rather than Evil Dead (1981).

To be honest, these parallels didn’t faze me nor did it take me out of the film.  Don’t get me wrong.  There were elements where it simply failed, but the style of possession was not one.

After the initial burning of the demon sequence, we are introduced to the main characters.  Mia (Jane Levy) gathers her friends and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) to her deceased mother’s cabin.  As she recently overdosed on dope and momentarily died, she enlists the group to help her quit cold turkey.  This is her second attempt to get clean as the first resulted in her relapsing in a mere 8 hours.

Unbeknownst to Mia, her friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) convinces David and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) to hold her against her will when the withdrawals take over and she demands to leave as they fear if she slips one more time that she will die.

As predicted, Mia’s withdrawals are fierce and she begins pacing in the rain.  Meanwhile, Eric and David descend into the basement and find evidence of black magic and a book.  Eric takes the book and despite the fact that one wrote on the pages in bold red letters not to read it, he throws caution to the wind and says the words aloud.

Outside, Mia sees a woman in the woods.  She runs inside to tell her friends but they believe it is merely the withdrawals talking.  When everyone refuses to let her leave, she grabs the keys and drives herself right into a large body of water.  She survives but is soon faced with the demon woman who vomits up a large phallic object and with the help of a tree rapes Mia.

When she arrives back in the cabin, once again everyone thinks the withdrawals are talking and that her psychotic ramblings are those of someone desperate for drugs.  Olivia who is a nurse gives a sedative.  When Natalie questions Olivia’s methods, the two get combative as it’s obvious that Olivia is a wannabe doctor who believes she knows everything.

Soon, Mia is a full fledge demon that they lock in the basement.  Sadly, a scene in the trailer that pays homage to the original was cut.  In the commercial, one sees the demon uttering “not another peep.”  This was nowhere to be found in the film.

Overall, the movie exceeded expectations.  It was scary, tense, and though supported with jump scares and gore, didn’t rely on those qualities alone.

The largest problem is that the characters with the exception of David were unsympathetic.  Eric, though otherwise likable was the idiot who opened and read the book.

Olivia comes across as a complete know-it-all.  That said, I will give the powers-that-be kudos for not having the actress play to any of the stereotypes that typically follow African Americans in horror movies.  For example, Kelly Rowland’s character Kia Waterson in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) portrayed the “sassy black woman” and it resulted in one of the most annoying and artificial characters in movie history.  Olivia was a strong smart character without any gimmick which was refreshing.  The character was actually written like a normal human being rather than a satirical stereotype.  Sadly, Olivia wasn’t likable.

Natalie isn’t really present, even in the scenes she’s in.  She’s just there.  Other than when she trusts that the demon has left Mia and descends into the basement like an idiot, she has no purpose other than to be one other victim.

Mia has a sad story as her mother was insane and she was abandoned by David when she was a child.  David though guilty of abandoning Mia does show his compassion and heart.  One will root for him while the others invoke no emotion.

Overall, I was impressed with the scares.  Though the demons in the original were far superior and much scarier, this was certainly a vast improvement over films like The Grudge (2004), SAW (2004), Paranormal Activity (2007), and V/H/S (2012).

The biggest letdown is in the last ten minutes of the movie.  The hero decides to turn into a badass and tells off the demons.  I hate that nonsense.  The fear of those facing the monsters is what keeps the audience at the edge of their seat.  That driving factor should never leave the character.

I always come back to the ending of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) where Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) escapes Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) yet has lost her mind.  The final scene where Sally is sitting in the back of the truck laughing maniacally is just as unsettling as watching Leatherface cut himself with the chainsaw or grandfather (John Dugan) hitting Sally in the head with a hammer.

All of that said, I would still suggest giving Evil Dead a shot.  Never will they be able to top the scenes from the original where Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) is floating and speaking in a horrifying tone or where Linda (Betsy Baker) sits up like a doll and laughs in a chilling childlike way.  The thought of those scenes make me tense.

In The Evil Dead (1981) the demons have the capability of giving me nightmares for weeks.  The white eyes, the singing,  and the sinister sarcastic behavior of the demons  is something that genuinely petrifies me.   Whereas this version, though scary, cannot compare.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is disturbing and the demons are well-done but (and I’m probably going to curse myself here) I don’t think I’ll have any bad dreams.

Now, I will say that this is far better than The Evil Dead (1981) sequels.  I know they have a cult following but I could never enjoy them as they were comedies spawned from such a frightening movie.

I would say to go in with low expectations and walk away pleasantly surprised.  It isn’t a thinking man’s movie, but there is a fairly decent creepy factor that the average horror moviegoer should find some enjoyment in.

Scared Stiff Rating: 6/10

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