Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and on demand
Rebooting a classic movie is difficult even when the original players are involved. Nevertheless, writer-director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell and producer Robert G. Tapert – all key players in 1981’s “The Evil Dead” – attempted to recapture the magic of their cult hit. The result is “Evil Dead” (2013), a picture heralded as both a loose remake of the original and a continuation of the “Dead” franchise. Eventually, the storyline and characters of the new film may be merged with those in the older “Dead” films, a concept that would be more appealing if “Evil Dead” were any good.
Although Raimi, Campbell and Tapert are producers of the new version, they left the heavy lifting to others, and the result is ho-hum. The key player is Fede Alvarez, who directed the movie from a screenplay he co-wrote with Rodo Sayagues. As in the original picture, the action centers on a group of young people who travel to a remote cabin where they discover a Satanic text. While studying the book, one member of the group (Lou Taylor Pucci) reads an incantation that unleashes a deadly supernatural force. This leaves everyone in peril, and much of the screen time is focused on Mia (Jane Levy), a young woman who traveled to the wilderness to kick a drug habit.
Taking a cue from “The Evil Dead” (1981), Alvarez allows events to play out in horrifically bloody fashion. It’s not enough, for instance, for a character to remove her own tongue. Alvarez makes sure the audience gets a look at the severed body part before moving on. By the time the credits roll, the body count is high, and all actors have been drenched in fake blood. Since some horror fans are attracted to excess, there is an audience for “Evil Dead.” The movie is not, however, for viewers who relish suspense, character development and originality.
“Evil Dead” owes everything to its predecessor, and Alvarez never tries to hide that fact, even when his movie feels painfully redundant. Raimi’s original picture became a cult classic by exercising a wicked sense of humor and establishing genre conventions that we take for granted today. This new version – although intermittently scary – is neither witty nor imaginative.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include three making-of features.
By Forrest Hartman