‘Evil Dead’ revamp, despite top production value, is a step back

By Dave Steele| @KyKernel

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In a woodland cabin far removed from the temptations of civilization, struggling heroin addict Mia joins her friends Eric and Olivia in hopes of finally detoxing.

When her brother, David, and his girlfriend meet them for support, they are shocked when they discover a secret cellar is filled with remnants of witchcraft and satanic ritual.

When the rest of the group returns to help Mia with her violent withdrawal, Eric’s curiosity leads him to an old book wrapped in barbed wire. After ignoring several warnings etched on the page, Eric reads a passage aloud that will unleash an unspeakable evil.

Meanwhile, Mia’s detox has unleashed a madness that drives her deep into the heart of the woods. This desperate state leads her to believe that a girl is chasing her and she frantically tries to evade the faceless figure. Mia then stumbles in a tangle of thorny vines that ensnares her with no hope of escape.

To Mia’s horror, the figure catches up and reveals itself to be a demonic version of herself. It opens its mouth and releases a thorny vine that enters Mia’s body and takes control.

In 1981, writer and director Sam Raimi released “The Evil Dead” on a $350,000 budget with a burning ambition to change the genre forever. It was a fiercely original piece of moviemaking that earned him two sequels and a cult following. Its unique blend of humor and terror created an entirely new experience that is still relevant today.

Unfortunately for fans of the original, the 2013 remake takes a much different approach. Despite top-notch production value and gut-wrenching special effects, “Evil Dead” brings nothing new to the table.

It’s a cookie-cutter horror flick that will evaporate quickly as audiences are throwing away their popcorn. It’s almost as if director Fede Alvarez crammed really hard for a “how to make a scary movie” exam and just regurgitated the answers to get the B and move on.

It’s very well made, and the elements of a great horror flick are all on display. It’s just far too derivative to really resonate.

Luckily for us, “Evil Dead” has a fresh, relatively unknown cast that should be exciting to watch develop in the industry. Lead actress Jane Levy nails the dynamic role of a possessed junkie and really sends a chill up your spine.

This young ensemble does everything right for what was asked of them and makes the experience somewhat worthwhile. Thanks to the lean 91-minute runtime, “Evil Dead” is fun enough and will make you squirm around just from the gore alone. Just don’t expect it to sink in very deep when it’s done.