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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

“Evil Dead” values shock above value

Mia (Jane Levy) peeks out from her makeshift prison to taunt her confused friends and loved ones. (Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

The original “Evil Dead,” made in 1981, spawned a myriad of sequels including the “Army of Darkness” films and launched the career of underground horror icon, Bruce Campbell. Fans of the franchise walk into a film like this with already inflated expectations, compounded by an aggressive marketing campaign and rave reviews, boasting claims like: “The most terrifying film you will ever experience.”

“Evil Dead” features a production team highlighted by original star Bruce Campbell and writer/director Sam Raimi, who know better than anyone how high the bar for shock value was set with the original. With this spirit in mind, the most memorable and lasting images from the 1981 film were preserved in the remake. Arboreal sexual assault, chainsaw showers and self-mutilation all feature prominently in the remake.

Unlike audiences of the 1981 original, 2013 audiences are largely desensitized to violence, blood and gore thanks to torture-porn shock films like the “Saw” franchise and the “Hostel” movies, many of which drew inspiration from the original “Evil Dead” in one way or another. To replicate that sense of shock and awe, “Evil Dead” went with the theory that there’s no such thing as too much. Too much blood, stabbing, blunt-force trauma, wild-eyed demons, small spaces, suffocation, agonizing extractions, needles, machetes, nails, shards of glass, eye injuries, defensive wounds, puss-filled wounds, burning bodies, chunky blood vomit, dead animals, broken fingers, severed hands, self-amputations, electric slicers and more blood again. If anything from that list sounds like something you could have enough of, this film probably isn’t for you.

The true irony is how effectively this surfeit of horrors accomplishes the desired sense of genre-savvy shock value. Academy Award winner, Diablo Cody and writer/director Fede Alvarez succeeded in a big way with a script which manages to deliver exactly what audiences expect of an “Evil Dead” film, without trying to be something more.

No matter who you are, or what makes you cringe, “Evil Dead” has included something that will make you squirm. That’s what it is and why it was made, or remade as the case may be.

One unexpected deviation from the original was the believable and realistic acting from an established cast. Jane Levy (known to some as Mandy Milkovitch on Showtime’s “Shameless”) stars as recovering addict Mia, who suffers the most from the discovery of an infamous book bound in human flesh. When she tells her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) that they need to get out of the cabin, it certainly feels like she means it.

Bringing a taste of modern indie-horror credibility to the cast, Lou Taylor Pucci who starred as Alex Breslin in the modern suspense thriller “Horsemen” in 2009, plays the wise-cracking, curious Eric who just can’t keep his hands off that pesky book and sets the entire catastrophe in motion.

In truth, the wide range and variety of graphic death scenes and horrific disfigurements don’t leave much run time for plot or character development outside of the cursory backstory given for why these friends have gathered in a remote cabin outside of cell phone range.

By not taking itself too seriously, the “Evil Dead” remake manages to hit the sweet spot of over-the-top gory spectacle with self-referential camp that will bring groups of adventurous friends out to laugh, gasp and shout at the screen. It’s also a film which a lot of people will walk out of in the middle. No one, however, will just feel casually about “Evil Dead.” It’s something that will be either loved or loathed, depending on how much of a glutton for punishment the individual viewer may be.

With untouchable reverence for the original, several hundred gallons of added blood and probably a half-million dollars in CGI, “Evil Dead” has nailed down the recipe for a successful cult horror remake.

Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) can't keep his hands to himself in the presence of the infamous Book of the Dead. (Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

The Book of the Dead warns of curious readers, but to no avail. (Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

Mia (Jane Levy) tries in vain to escape her horrific fate. (Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) tries to defend himself with limited success. (Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

Mia (Jane Levy) peeks out from her makeshift prison to taunt her confused friends and loved ones.
(Courtesy of Tristar Pictures)

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About the Contributor
Josh "Grassy" Knoll, Editor in Chief
Editor in chief, spring 2013. Arts & Features editor, fall 2012.

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“Evil Dead” values shock above value