“There was something in the woods, David… and I think it’s in here with us… now.”
The Scoop: 2013 R, directed by Fede Alvarez and starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jessica Lucas
Tagline: The most terrifying film you will ever experience.
Summary Capsule: Ash might not be back, but the Book of the Dead is, and it’s bringing a fresh hell to a group of folks visiting a certain cabin in the woods
Justin’s rating: Slightly less than groovy
Justin’s review: At some point, I think the general geekdom — myself included — stopped hoping for a fourth Evil Dead film. Many years passed following 1993’s Army of Darkness, and while that film had become a cult favorite, it wasn’t a box office hit that beckons for another film. Bruce Campbell kept telling fans that they shouldn’t expect another movie, and Sam Raimi started making other bigger and more critically acclaimed films (Spider-Man, A Simple Plan). My Name is Bruce and The Cabin in the Woods carried the Evil Dead torch in many ways, but the franchise itself seemed dead. So we just stopped expecting it.
And then a new one came. One that both is — and isn’t — a sequel. Yes, we’re venturing into Prometheus territory again, so it’s going to be a bit weird.
2013’s Evil Dead doesn’t continue the story of Ash and his wacky misadventures battling the Deadites. Instead, it’s a mostly new story about a group of college-age students who come to a remote cabin to help their friend kick her heroin addiction once and for all. It’s just about the worst place for a detox, since the cellar is full of ashes, dead cats, and an evil book bound in human flesh. Hey! Why not flip that book open and just start reading the words aloud, why don’t you? Well now demons are coming to possess the living, whodathunk it.
Mia, the junkie, is the first one to really sense the demonic presence in the woods and cabin, but because she’s also going through withdrawal, none of her friends heed her warnings or let her leave. I’ll hand it to the film, it’s a solid reason for the cast to stick around when anyone in their right mind would be high-tailing it out of there, although it does get less and less solid as the film goes on and the poop comes to poop town. By the time that the five young adults are playing hot potato with Satan, it’s too late and a flood cuts them off.
So let’s back up to how this is and isn’t a sequel. Obviously, the story structure is quite similar to the first two Evil Dead films. There are plenty of callbacks, including the Olds, the chainsaw, the shotgun, the cellar, the creepy song (although it’s a different song), evil camera, a possessed hand, amputated limbs, bridge being wiped out, tree rape, a cabin that’s much bigger on the inside than the outside, quick montage sequences, and a couple of repeated lines. But while Raimi and Campbell are involved as producers, it’s mostly a whole new shindig with a new cast and a new director and a complete love of torture porn/gonzo horror. Above all else, this film loves its gory grossouts, far more graphic and disturbing than the original trilogy.
I think what I missed the most was the humor. Sure, there were a couple of funny moments, but nothing like Raimi’s touch or Campbell’s slapstick. The Evil Dead trilogy wasn’t just about gore, it was about combating horror with humor and a hero that could strike back. The Cabin in the Woods did this brilliantly, and in comparison Evil Dead feels like a more splatter-by-the-numbers modern horror flick than anything else.
It’s not all hopeless, however. I think it’s an interesting movie, if nothing else, and the actors do great jobs portraying their possessed doubles. I’m glad that there was at least some effort made to feature callbacks and tie-ins with the classic series instead of just slapping the Evil Dead brand name on a completely unrelated product. And I think that Raimi and Campbell are probably proud to see their creation continue to pour buckets of fake blood all over the place. It’s like their baby, really.
It may be a little better than the first Evil Dead, but the 2013 iteration lacks the funnies, memorable hero, and off-center quirkiness that made this series a cult staple.
- If you take the first letters of the main characters David, Eric, Mia, Olivia and Natalie, the letters spell out DEMON.
- In the scene where the broken necklace is found outside of the cabin, it can be seen resting in the shape of a skull, just like in the original.
- According to reports in the press, the film used 70,000 gallons of fake blood. In an interview, Fede Alvarez said they used 50,000 gallons for the final scene alone. This is compared to the 200-300 gallons used in the original.
- In one scene there are cards spread out on the table. The cards are laid out in the order that Cheryl reads them in the original.
- The Oldsmobile is back in the beginning!
Mia: No! No. You don’t understand. There was something in the woods, David… and I think it’s in here with us… now.
Eric: This thing is attached to Mia’s soul like a leech. If I’m reading this right, it’s become her. If we want to help Mia… we’re gonna have to kill her.
Abomination Mia: I will feast on your soul!
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