I remember watching the first Evil Dead film as a teenager. My parents had gone away for the weekend, and left me looking after the cat. I got hold of some ‘video nasties’ on VHS, stocked up on chocolate milk, and got down to business. I spent the rest of the night a jibbering wreck, unable to sleep, cowering behind the sofa and jumping out of my skin at the slightest provocation. It was one of the best nights of my life.
The 2013 version, the first not to be directed by Sam Raimi, is neither a remake nor a fourth instalment of the Evil Dead franchise. Instead, it resides somewhere in between. Bruce Campbell, star of the first three movies (along with the chainsaw) is back as part of the original production team that also includes Raimi. You’ll be glad to know the chainsaw is back, too. The plot is very similar to the original; a group of teens head out to a cabin in the woods, stumble across a book bound in human skin (never a good sign), rather naively voice some spells from said book, then all hell breaks loose. Literally.
This new version does benefit from a few twenty-first century twists, not to mention a bigger budget, and the back story is filled out a little more. The group is given a reason for existing in that Mia is a hopeless drug addict, and a stint in the remote cabin represents her only chance to get clean. Otherwise its what you would expect; demons, dismemberments, and destruction. For the eagle-eyed anoraks among you there is a feast of trivia. The first initials of the main cast, for example, David, Eric, Mia, Olivia and Natalie, when put in the correct order, spells what? Interestingly, the production notes state that no CGI was used, the makers instead preferring to research illusion and magic tricks. So does it deliver? You bet it does, and then some. Easily one of the movies of the year so far.