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Mia, a young woman struggling with sobriety, heads to a remote cabin with her brother and a group of friends, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to danger and horror.
For more about Evil Dead and the Evil Dead Blu-ray release, see Evil Dead Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 9, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Fede Álvarez
Writers: Sam Raimi, Diablo Cody, Fede Álvarez
Starring: Jane Levy (II), Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore
» See full cast & crew
Evil Dead Blu-ray Review
A franchise too good to die.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 9, 2013
Hope to die.
Few remakes are created with input from, and the blessings of, those who played significant roles in the original. 2013's Evil Dead is one of the lucky few. A franchise reboot, a remake, a re-imagining, whatever it may be -- the film makes a case for all of those -- this Dead was produced, and its director chosen, by the trio of Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert, the star, director, and producer, respectively, of the original Evil Dead, the remake/re-imagining, and the fan-favorite Army of Darkness ("Shop smart! Shop S-Mart!"). That's some potent firepower in the 2013 film's corner. While Director Fede Alvarez's film lacks the grit, the underlying comedy, and the macabre charm of the original, it seems like just the sort of thing Horror fans will soak up in droves, and they better bring plenty of sponges, because there's so much blood that it practically explodes out of the screen. Yet 2013's Dead will likely wind up dividing audiences. On one side will be those who view it as a cash-in, an unnecessary film, an insult to the original, and all of the other Internet and word-of-mouth criticisms that inevitably, and often rightly, follow the release of a classic reborn. On the other side will be those who will simply enjoy the film for its relentless pacing, scenes of gruesome dismemberment, slick filmmaking, and tributes to the original while at the same time blazing its own hellishly blood-soaked path. Objectively, Evil Dead probably falls somewhere in the middle while favoring the "better" side of the argument. As far as "remakes" go this one's about as gory and disquietingly intense as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, though as these sort of movies go, Evil Dead cannot match the original's boldness, nor does it exude that sense of classic filmmaking or capture a more fully realized unique spirit, many of the same issues that dogged Chainsaw even through all of that film's pluses -- style, intensity, excess violence -- most of which Dead shares in common.
Mia (Jane Levy) and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) have retreated to their family's old secluded cabin in hopes of breaking Mia's addiction to hard drugs, cold-tukey style. With them is David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), a high school teacher named Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and a nurse named Olivia (Jessica Lucas). All know it will be a challenge. David vows to remain by Mia's side through thick-and-thin, and Olivia warns of the potential for crisis when Mia's system begins to break down without the narcotics. As they wait out the withdrawal, Mia claims to smell something dead from inside the cabin. The dog catches whiff of it, too, and they're led to a secret basement filled with dead cats, strange artifacts, and a frightening tome. Eric opens the book and, in spite of its warnings, proceeds to read from it, aloud. Unfortunately, the passages he's chosen are in fact a summons for evil spirits that quickly possess Mia. David believes her pleas to flee to be drug, not demon, induced. Nevertheless, they all quickly come to realize the certain death they face. Floods have washed away the only way home, leaving five young adults to battle ancient demons determined to leave no flesh unharmed, no limb safe from detachment, no soul alive.
Evil Dead looks great in a very modern sense of the term. There's no mistaking the film's technical polish, the vast amounts of expertise behind the production, the atmosphere of dark peril and dread built not on grainy 16mm film but instead smooth HD video, and the amazing and fully seamless gore effects, from vomiting huge quantities of bile to brutally removing limbs, from yanking projectiles and sharp objects from skin to a little chainsaw action at the end (oh, boy, that's some rough watching there). The net effect is hugely positive, even considering a few negatives, chiefly the disappointingly stock characters (though they weren't much more than stock in 1981) and that lifeless HD video sheen (that's modern cinema). But beyond the technical polish and the few complaints is a movie that, at its core, feels more inspired by the older film rather a straight remake of it. Sure, many of the classic moments are left intact -- the cellar hatch, the "vine rape" -- but some have been re-imagined, character fates are swapped around, and some new ideas are injected into the movie for that minty fresh taste. Evil Dead in many ways conquers the unenviable challenge of forging its own identity through making use of old ideas and classic moments while also bringing something new to the table. Fede Alvarez largely succeeds in making the movie his own, of finding that balance that respects the original but pushes forward into a new era for a cherished franchise. The movie is fast, magnificently gory, and relentlessly unsettling. It's comfortably familiar but at the same time unnervingly unfamiliar. That's the mark of a quality remake.
Yet there's that unmistakable "teenagers in peril" vibe that's so terribly overdone these days, complete with the interchangeable characters that are mostly defined by face rather than personality or intimate traits. Horror does enjoy the benefit of not really needing massive amounts of character development when they're all going to be covered in massive amounts of blood by the end, but it would be nice to know them beyond "girl with drug addiction" or "guy with glasses." It becomes difficult to tell some of them -- particularly the girls -- apart when they've gone from supermodel to satanic demon, covered in blood and who-knows-what and with various limbs and chunks of skin missing from their bodies. Evil Dead works more on kinetic energy, in the moment, leaving behind much of a plot in favor of its relentless pacing and ooey-gooey gore. The story is thin, as it was in the original, and it's set up just enough to give the characters a reason to be at the cabin and, later, not want to leave until it's too late. What's more, Evil Dead just isn't particularly scary. There are certainly some classic "jump" scares, but the film banks more on excess visuals than any sort of dramatic, emotional, skin-crawling terror. It does largely leave the story wide open with minimal explanation, which heightens the fear and intensity considering the quantity of unknown behind the possessions, beyond, of course, the readings from the book. No matter the plot specifics or lack of robust characterization, though; this is a brutal, nonstop assault of high intensity gore and raw, unflinching terror of the highest order. They don't get much more gruesome than this. Fans of these sorts of films should fall in love after one viewing.
Evil Dead Blu-ray, Video Quality
Evil Dead might lack the grainy, rough, and raw visuals of the original film, but the digital photography does sparkle in high definition. Even considering how overwhelmingly dark much of the film may be, there's no shortage of amazing textures and contextually strong colors throughout. Image clarity is impeccable, with natural sharpness defining each and every element. Whether wooden surfaces around the inside and outside of the cabin, the fine paper detail and heavy pen scratches inside the Book of the Dead, downed leaves and twigs outside (in those rare brighter shots), or gory prosthetics, Sony's transfer proves all-revealing and capable of showcasing every visual with precise accuracy. Colors often favor a dreary, drowned-out sort of appearance. There are some good greens in a few early scenes and, of course, plenty of red, but the palette looks great under even the harshest, least forgiving, and least revealing lighting conditions. Black levels are fantastic and, with an absence of crush or washed-out shadows, the film only gains visual effectiveness in high definition. There is a bit of banding around bright light sources contrasted against darker backdrops, but otherwise this is a top-tier transfer in every area.
Evil Dead Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sony delivers a fun and flawless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack for Evil Dead. The presentation begins wonderfully and rarely relents, and it certainly never lets its foot off the proverbial gas when it comes to unflappable quality. The picture starts with footsteps scampering throughout the listening area while creating a very big woodland soundstage inside the home theater, seemingly expanding the listening area by a rather large degree. The action calms, momentarily, as the primary players are introduced minutes later but only picks up again once the sounds of violence -- screaming, hacking, slicing, shooting, chainsaw revving -- begin littering the stage with the aural equivalent of mayhem and gore. Every squishy detail comes through with the sort of clarity that, when combined with the nasty visuals, only heightens the impact of a particular shot by a significant degree. Heavy rain saturates the stage in many scenes to realistic effect, representing the most constant surround element in the film. Music is very well implemented, too, playing robustly and clearly at all levels, enjoying a wide and pronounced front stage and a fruitful rear channel presence. Balance with every element is impeccable, and clarity across the range -- from hushed whispers to the most chaotic blood spilling at the end -- never misses a beat. Dialogue plays accurately and evenly from the center, rounding a top-notch, Horror demo-worthy track into an excellent end product.
Evil Dead Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Evil Dead contains an audio commentary track and several featurettes.
Evil Dead Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Evil Dead won't leave fans forgetting the original. However, it's a quality film that's not for the weary but rather for genre aficionados who appreciate a good blood-soaking and a very straightforward, no frills, no fear sort of Horror film. In fact, it's amazing Evil Dead survived its (reportedly second) trip through the MPAA and earned an "R" rating with this level of nastiness intact; the end scene in particular is quite difficult to stomach. Nevertheless, the end result is a very strong, very good remake/re-imagining that's not perfect -- which one is? -- but that blends together the core of the old with the feel of the new. Poor characters are masked by incredible special effects and a relentless pace. Certainly, the film will have its detractors, but the good news is that the original films still exist, fully unaltered by this release, available to cleanse the palette of those who disapprove of Alvarez's film or those simply wanting to revisit the original classics after screening this film for a good compare/contrast exercise. Chances are most Horror fans will find a place of distinction for this Evil Dead next to their well-loved copies of the old films. Sony's Blu-ray release of Evil Dead features standout video and amazing audio. A fair selection of extras are included. Very highly recommended.
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Evil Dead Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Evil Dead (2013) Blu-ray - May 28, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring to Blu-ray Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead (2013), starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, and Lou Taylor Pucci. Co-produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, this remake of the classic horror film will be available for purchase ...
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