Jessie’s Saturday Night Fright Flick: 2013’s Evil Dead
In early 2013, I won tickets from a horror publication’s Twitter contest to the advanced screening of Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead in Toronto. I went with a friend of mine and we made an evening of it. We got drinks in the lounge before the show, mingled with some of the other lucky audience members, and a lovely gentleman brought us our tickets and helped us find seats. Little did I know what could have evolved from that evening. That publication was Fangoria, and that dude was ShockTillYouDrop‘s fearless leader, Chris Alexander.
I had mixed emotions going into this film. Being a fan of the original series (like everybody ever!), I was afraid that this wasn’t going to hold up to the original. I was open to it, obviously, and I was very excited based on the trailers, but I had that little fear in the pit of my stomach that I would be disappointed. I was very wrong.
This incarnation of Evil Dead stars Jane Levy as Mia, a woman trying to kick a drug habit with her friends’ support at a cabin in the woods. When Mia starts showing signs of demonic possession, her friends assume she is experiencing symptoms of withdrawal and therefore allow themselves to get pulled further and further into the deadites’ clutches. I thought that the storyline was very inventive and felt like new ground for horror, even as a remake. Alvarez and crew obviously knew that to create something as powerful as Evil Dead, and to still please the fans of the original, they had to come from a place of originality. The lack of a true Ash character also lent the audience an inkling that maybe these two films could exist in parallel dimensions. A scenario brought forth by Bruce Campbell himself, stating in the DVD extras that the two films could exist side by side, and that the Book of the Dead could just be “making its rounds.”
The effects themselves are groundbreaking. Alvarez insisted on using mostly practical effects for the feature, another way of staying as true as possible to Raimi’s vision. It always makes a film ten times better when the nasty effect of an arm being pulled from its socket is achieved through literally tearing a fake arm from a socket rather than doing it in post. If you have the opportunity to watch the commentary with Jane Levy, Fede Alvarez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci and Rodo Sayagues, I suggest that you do. Alvarez has plenty of stories about the characters’ motivations, how they achieved some of the trickier practical effects, some lesser known Raimi homages and some of his methods for getting certain reactions from the cast. I obviously bought this on Blu-ray as soon as it came out.
Jane Levy as Mia (Ash 2.0) is a god damned power house. It is well known that she was put through hell during the gorier scenes, but after break down on top of blood rain on top of hours in and out of makeup she turned in an unbelievable performance. Certain parts in the film, as “Evil Mia,” she fooled me into thinking she was being played by somebody else. Her range, depth and sanity were all tested in the making of this film, and she proved herself to be a phenomenal actress.
There is one scene in particular that I want to spoil a bit. At one point, Lucas’ character Olivia breaks away from the group to wash Alpha-Ghetti vomit off of her face, and we begin to see that something horrible is going to happen to her. When Eric (Pucci) goes in to find her, there is a slow scene of him walking towards the bathroom door, and all you can hear is this awful “shick shick shick” noise. The few moments between when you first hear the noise, to when you see what is making that noise is pure horror. The suspense builds, you know what is happening but you don’t know how disgusting it is going to be. It was pure genius.
The cinematography is gorgeous, plain and simple From the opening shot (after the “prologue”) of the car driving through the forest, to the sun catching the leaves of the trees at the end, for a gory as hell flick, everything is captured beautifully.
So there I was, astounded at what I had seen, so pumped and high from the experience that I felt like I had just come off a roller coaster. I came home and wrote a glowing review of my experiences at the screening on my blog, thanked Chris on Facebook for helping us find seats and then pestered him mercilessly until he gave me the opportunity to write for him. Fond memories of that gory little film. And made all the better being able to visit the set of the newest Alvarez and Levy collaboration Don’t Breathe, stay tuned for my write up of my experiences in the next couple of days. I can’t wait to see it!!
Stay scared kiddies.
Jessie Robbins can be read every Saturday on this site…