Fede Alvarez's horror remake doesn't better the original, but is still satisfyingly gory
Plumping for back-to-basics terror over quips and innovation, Evil Dead transcends its remake status with exuberant displays of blood lust, dousing a largely bland cast in buckets of the stuff. The feature debut of acclaimed shorts director Fede Alvarez doesn't quite live up to the hype but it comes to the screen with the original's director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell as producers. And if it'll do for them.
Suburgatory's droll Jane Levy is a fine choice as heroine Mia, a drug addict drying out with the help of some friends. It's a smart conceit which has her freaking out before the undead have even come a-calling. Those joining her in the familiar cabin in the woods are a truly forgettable, miscellaneous bunch: there's her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) who's promised not to leave her and the idiotic Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), whose incautious interest in the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) kick-starts their nightmare.
Instead of attempting the impossible and seeking to exorcise Raimi's films from our minds, Alvarez (whose short Panic Attack! was a YouTube sensation) teasingly references the trilogy, offering (vaguely) new twists on old ideas and lines. No one character rises to the fore in the manner of the incomparable Campbell, with our ostensible 'final girl' spending a lot of time in her ghoulish, possessed persona. Evil Dead has ample cheap shocks and few bloodcurdling frights but it builds to something gorily bravura and, if that's your bag, you'll come away satisfied. It's a while before anyone picks up a chainsaw, but boy is it worth it when they do.