"Evil Dead" (2013) Review – Hardcore Drugs as Deadites

Updated on May 3, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

Reboots rarely raise good expectations. The majority of its audience usually goes to movie theaters out of respect for their nostalgia and with an evident predisposition to the new material.

Evil Dead was no exception. Little did it matter that Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Robert Tapert were executive producers, safeguarding the legacy of the saga. Evil Dead was always doomed to disappoint, even if it was just a little.

Quite simply, you cannot expect a massive cult hit in an Evil Dead entry without putting Ash at the forefront of the story.

Taking all this into consideration, what Fede Alvarez achieved is admirable. No, there was no cult or universal critical acclaim, but Evil Dead managed to be a box office hit, attracting old fans and new audiences and even motivating some positive reviews.

The truth is, Evil Dead is a great horror movie.

Following the tradition started in Evil Dead II, there is no clarity as to where Evil Dead lands in this universe. Is this a soft reboot? Well, taking into account the callbacks to the structure of the original trilogy, it seems that way. The old cabin, the group of young people about to start suffering, the rapist tree, the destroyed bridge that avoids the escape, the severed hand, the chainsaw, among others, are too many clues that just can’t be coincidences but a blueprint of a new version.

However, Fede Alvarez openly plays with ambiguity, even going so far as to say that he considers this film “as a story that takes place 30 years after The Evil Dead ended. The car is there, the cabin is there, a family bought it and did some work on it more than 20 years ago, and the book has found its way back to the cabin.”

Honestly, it matters very little. Ash has a “cameo” at the end of the credits that could just mean absolutely nothing, beyond a wink to hardcore fans.

Evil Dead is its own thing.

This time, the young victims of the damned cabin have a different motive. Mia (Jane Levy) is a heroin addict, and the rural retreat with her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is designed to be a detox weekend. Mia’s brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez) arrives late to the event along with his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Due to David’s historical attitude of running away from trouble, there is some tension in the group.

Mia’s withdrawal gets worse while in parallel the group discovers–as usual–the Necronomicon in the cellar of the cabin, where there are also indications of a ritual in which someone was burned alive. Eric takes great effort to investigate the contents of the book, to the point of enunciating the evil-freeing spell. It makes you wonder if he actually did deserve his horrible death.

Fede Alvarez takes the reins with an enviable personality and does not fall into the trap of trying to emulate Raimi’s slapstick and humor. For Alvarez, this story is closer to the spectrum of The Exorcist and Saw than to The Three Stooges.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there is a total disconnection with the franchise. The iconic POV through the forest is there, just like the cabin, the book, the cellar and many other details.

Evil Dead also makes a sincerely adorable effort to give coherence to the continuity disaster of the saga. For example, at one point Eric tries to burn the Necronomicon, discovering that it’s impossible. This is just to explain how the book appeared in Evil Dead II after Ash just burned it at the end of The Evil Dead.

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Evil Dead is a full-blown gruesome experience and borderline torture porn. Forget about cartoonish laughing reindeer or joking deadites. Here, the suffering of the victims feels real and at times difficult to digest. There is a nice mix between body horror, gore and the supernatural that is rarely seen on screen.

And above all, there is a huge amount of self-inflicted painful damage, in what is practically a recurring motif in this movie, as a symbology on drug use.

The story of Mia’s addiction as a backdrop in this horror story is a great script move by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. This film works quietly on its own, as an extreme allegory about addiction and the devastating effects of hard drugs in youth.

Evil Dead is about self-destruction, and in that respect, it is consistent with its own place in the history of the franchise.

Because although Jane Levy did a great job, at this point it’s almost impossible that we will see her play this character again. Much less do a crossover with Ash.

Take a look at my Evil Dead list that covers all entries in the Evil Dead universe.

Movie Details

Title: Evil Dead

Release Year: 2013

Director(s): Fede Alvarez

Actors: Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas, a.o.

3 stars for Evil Dead (2013)

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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