Evil Dead REVIEW

Evil Dead DVD review.

Evil Dead

A situation we’re pretty sure has never come up on Gardeners’ Question Time.


Release Date: 12 August 2013
2013 | 18 | 88 minutes | £17.99 (DVD)/£22.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Studiocanal
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

When dealing with remakes, it’s often best to try and put the original out of your mind completely. That’s not an option with this gore-soaked reimagining of Sam Raimi’s horror classic. It doesn’t just lift the series’ basic premise, but repeatedly calls back to it – and the sequels. Hands will be severed, a chainsaw will be used and, yes, there’s an angry molesting tree.

The plot is simple. Four young Americans travel out into the sticks to help their friend Mia – a recovering drug addict – go cold turkey. Figuring that withdrawal is kicking in, they ignore all of her pleas to leave – even when they become increasingly disturbing. Then they find a sinister book in the cellar of the cabin…

Fede Alvarez’s film does a lot of things right. It’s respectful to the past, while throwing in a few fresh ideas. Ditching the character of Ash was a bold move, but works. The cast are good – especially Jane Levy, who gives it her all in the pivotal role of Mia, and the drug angle provides a vaguely plausible reason for the gang to hang around when shit gets weird.

But, oh man, is it joyless. Too ludicrous to take seriously, yet too po-faced to laugh at, it sacrifices wit and energy for intensity. This is a relentlessly violent, nasty film, with some spectacularly gross setpieces that, after a while, just become numbing.

Still, there’s some great stuff here too. An attack with a nail gun is equal parts amusing and wince-inducing, and the final scene calls back to a classic Evil Dead moment in highly entertaining fashion. In the final 15 minutes or so, the film comes alive, embracing the cartoon-horror feel of the original trilogy. That’s great – but what took it so long?

Extras:

A decent set of featurettes, the most interesting of which is “The Reboot” (nine minutes), which addresses the concerns everyone involved (most notably Bruce Campbell) had about remaking The Evil Dead; this and “Unleashing The Evil Force” (about the Book Of The Dead; five minutes) are Blu-ray exclusives, as is the commentary, which teams the director and writer with Jane Levy and co-stars Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas.

Also on the DVD is “Being Mia” (nine minutes); a video diary shot by Levy as she wanders around the set and undergoes her makeup transformation. It’s short, but interesting, and the fact that she’s behind the camera adds a pleasing intimacy. “Directing The Dead” (seven minutes) and “Making Life Difficult” (eight minutes) are short behind-the-scenes pieces, with the latter focussing on how gruelling the shoot was.

Buy from Sainsbury’s and you get a second disc of extras. It features interviews with Alvarez and Levy, a Q&A from a screening at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema, and the trailer.

Will Salmon twitter.com/evilrobotbill

Read all our A-Z Of Evil Dead features.
Watch our Evil Dead video interviews with Fede Alvarez and Jane Levy.

For an alternate perspective, read our Evil Dead review from the theatrical release.