Rated: R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 5, 2013 Released by: Columbia TriStar
A bad-ass sensory viscerally hellish ride re-imagined from a Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell 80s popular collaboration isn't as ghoulishly, tingly fun as Raimi's more recent Drag Me To Hell or last year's more impish, winking Joss Whedon enterprise, The Cabin in the Woods.
But, a new Evil Dead (starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Elizabeth Blackmore, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Jessica Lucas) under the derivative, yet driven direction of Uruguayan auteur Fede Alvarez (known for his startling shorts) offers up a lurid, severe cinematic panic attack that should reach those who remember the best examples of the demonic like The Exorcist or other machinations of the Grim Reaper, like the Final Destination films.
From a vicious, if unnecessary prologue, Alvarez opens up an ominous Pandora's Box that closely resembles the main idea of Raimi's spirited exercise in terror with a lengthy panning shot (shades of The Shining) to a haunted woodland.
It's Levy's heroin-addicted Mia not on a holiday but at a remote eerie rickety cabin in the woods trying to break the habit with mechanic brother David (Fernandez) in tow. Along for 'support' are David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), teacher Eric (Pucci) and medical professional Olivia (Jessica Lucas).
Eric fuels the nightmarish peril from opening the barbed-wire Book of the 'Dead Necronomicon' down in the cellar. All sort of insidious malevolent iniquity is inflicted on a group unfairly burdened in austere bloody fashion.
Even some skeptics of Raimi's occasionally thrilling, sometimes wry schlocky series may be darkly enraptured by what ensues, especially what Mia endures (using the infamous tree scene, razor blades, and a shower) to scalding, brutal effect. The group thinks her wicked disposition may be the side effects of going cold turkey.
Evil Dead does enough to steer away from the paranormal or torture while finding a palpable sinister dread in nodding favorably to the influence of Raimi without being too capricious. Still, in an assist from cutesy clever scribe Diablo Cody (who gave Juno much of its witty sparkle), Pucci's portent has a sparsely wry, if sly quality in this violent, hardly groundbreaking, if gut-wrenching vision as Eric is part of its most mortifying moments. The filmmakers unflinchingly stick to the hardcore basics of the canon to make it a less stale version of a beast that luridly rears its ugly head in ways that espouses the cruelty felt in the likes of Carrie and Dead Alive.