Last night, Evil Dead had its World Premiere at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW. All the principal cast, as well as the director, Fede Alvarez, and producers Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, were in attendance and spoke after the film. Alvarez specifically discussed the changes that were made to re-invent the film for modern times. In many ways, it does stray from the original and does not include Campbell or any of the old cast. However, many of the iconic moments are included in new ways, and it is very clearly a reflection of the old film. Campbell and Tapert have done re-imaginings before specifically with Evil Dead the musical (which they say they have no plans to turn into a film) but they really wanted this to be separate from the old films. Bruce said some day he hopes we can sit down and watch the originals straight through followed by these and feel that they are two different things. Also officially announced, Evil Dead 2 is already in the works and currently being written.
The film opens with a freaky satanic-looking scene involving some form of witchcraft and an old book, but it soon becomes clear that these are not our main characters. In present time, we first see a group of teens who have gone out to a cabin in the woods. But this is not just a place they decided to inhabit for a weekend of drinking and partying. Mia (Jane Levy) has a drug problem and her best friends and older brother have agreed to go out with her to the secluded house of her childhood to get it out of her system. Right away, she drops her stash down a hole, and they all agree to wait it out. David (Shiloh Fernandez), Mia’s absent brother, and two of her friends, Olivia (Jessica Lucas) a nurse and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) a teacher are there to help along with David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). They hunker down for what promises to be a long night, not knowing what that will really mean from them.
Fede Alvarez remarked that you don’t really feel like you are in an Evil Dead film until half way through. Although weird things do start to happen early on (a group of dead animals are hung from the ceiling in the basement, Eric finds a book bound in flesh and Mia swears she saw someone in the woods), it is not until Mia starts to exhibit some changes that it gets really scary. As the night progresses, things get weirder and wilder until the audience is rushed into the groove of a true horror film. While much less comedic than the original, most of the audience clapped and cheered when the 1981 version was alluded to, and there are some truly funny moments. Parts of the middle are a little long as, eventually, it feels like the same thrills being repeated but the epic conclusion arrives swiftly and makes it worth the mild wait. All in all, it’s definitely more terrifying and cringeworthy than the first Evil Dead and equally over the top bloody.
The Verdict: Both fans of the original and lovers of modern horror will enjoy this “rebirth” of the classic franchise.
Opens: April 5, 2013
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore