The Evil Dead reviewed by Simon Hooper

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Evil Dead (2013) 

Sam Raimi’s original micro budgeted ‘experience in gruelling terror’ quickly gained notoriety in the early 80’s, falling foul of the UK’s video recording act but ultimately launching his career. Over the years the film has gained somewhat iconic status amongst horror fans. Here he hands the reins over to first time feature director Fede Alvarez, though still retaining some control over the production – producing it through his own company. With recent remake abominations such as A Nightmare on Elm Street still fresh in the mind  fans have good reason to be worried, but they can relax because, if this update is anything to go by, it would appear to be in good hands.

The movie starts with an intense and gruesome prologue which sets the tone for the latter half of the film, as a satanically possessed woman (whose father raised the demons from the woods) comes to a grisly demise.

The film then follows the plot of the original with five friends travelling to the cabin. One of the group, Mia, played by Jane Levy has her own different kind of demons to battle at first as she goes ‘cold turkey’ withdrawing from heroin addiction. Unlike the original we do get a little bit of character history before the carnage begins, with Mia being the first to be possessed – although her friends confuse this with withdrawal symptoms. She then goes about wreaking havoc, inflicting atrocities on both herself and the others.

Alvarez has come up with all manner of methods to sustain injury, but perhaps the most effective are the ones which are all too plausible – none more so than the scalding shower scene. But in keeping with the original there are outrageous extremes, all of which have been hinted at previously, either with strategically placed items or more often illustrations contained within the barbed-wire-bound Book of the Dead.

This reboot of the franchise has a notably larger budget and benefits from better photography by Aaron Morton. It also gains from using practical effects rather than the usual trend of overt CGI, culminating in a satisfyingly blood-drenched finale. Alvarez has been judicious in his influences, notably in an Exorcist-type demon voice, one minute pleading for sympathy, the next spouting vitriolic obscenities. He also pays sparing homage to the original, using its trademark POV demon-darting-through-the-trees shot while discarding the extreme angles and close-ups so prominent in Raimi’s version. Instead this goes quite literally for the jugular with the screen splattered with blood screaming, ‘Gore Blimey!’ at you.

It’s a briskly paced 90 minutes and even leaves something for the fan boys, who shouldn’t be in a rush to leave before the post-credits surprise.

Evil Dead is released in the UK April 19th