Review: 'Evil Dead' should please original fans
This film image released by Sony-TriStar Pictures shows Jane Levy in a scene from "Evil Dead." (AP Photo/Sony-TriStar Pictures)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Blood-drenched" barely begins to describe Fede Alvarez's remake of "Evil Dead," a gore-for-broke affair that strips the flesh off Sam Raimi's cult-beloved comic-horror franchise and exposes the demons at its core. The presence of Raimi, original collaborator Rob Tapert, and star Bruce Campbell as producers should give the faithful permission to attend what would otherwise smell like a shameless exploitation of the 1981 film, but the high production values and nonstop action offered here should also please younger genre fans who've never bothered to rent it.
True to the essence of its predecessor but reinventing some particulars (precedent is set by Raimi's "Evil Dead II," which practically remade the story from scratch), this film retains the five-youths-in-a-cabin premise, but renames the characters and changes some relationships to ensure we don't expect a beat-by-beat remake. That's good news for Shiloh Fernandez, who has none of the humor or panache of Campbell — Fernandez's David fills the slot of Campbell's Ash, in that he's the brother of the first young woman to be possessed by evil forces (Jane Levy's Mia), but David is, wisely, never offered as an Ash-like hero.
This film image released by Sony-TriStar Pictures shows Shiloh Fernandez, center, in a scene from "Evil Dead." (AP Photo/ Sony-TriStar Pictures, Kirsty Griffin)
And while the original had a conventional slasher-flick setup — a co-ed spring break trip to the woods — this one offers more justification for the remote setting and the characters' reluctance to leave when things start to go south: Mia is a drug addict, and her brother and their friends have come to the family cabin to nurse her through a cold-turkey withdrawal. Having already steeled themselves to ignore her inevitable pleas to go home, Mia's friends at first mistake the evidence of her possession for drug-sick desperation.