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In 1978, friends Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert went to a forest in Michigan with a camera and $1600 in their pockets to shoot the short film "Within the Woods" in a farmhouse. This not only laid the foundation for their own careers, but also for a very popular horror franchise. A short time later, Raimi was able to stage the story in long form with a significantly increased budget of almost 375,000 dollars, with Tapert again as producer and Bruce Campbell as lead actor and co-producer. The result was "Evil Dead", a classic horror film, which was quickly confiscated and put on the index due to its rather drastic depiction of violence in Germany.
There followed two more sequels with "Evil Dead 2" and "Army of Darkness", which turned the main character Ash into one of the great cult characters of the horror genre. Although Sam Raimi has meanwhile specialized in more family-friendly entertainment with blockbusters like the "Spider-Man" movies, fans haven't given up hope that one day he will return to the dark forest with Ash and reopen the Book of Death. It hasn't come to that yet, but Raimi, Campbell and Tapert have joined forces to produce a new edition of their classic.
Fede Alvarez, who made his feature debut with his version of "Evil Dead", has taken the helm. Filmed in New Zealand's Auckland with an impressive budget of 17 million dollars, this 2013 version of the horror classic is strictly speaking not a direct remake, but also not a classic sequel. Rather, it's a very similar story in the same universe, peppered with many nice allusions to the original, but at the same time always goes its own way. At its core, history has remained the same: David (Shiloh Fernandez), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Natalie (Elisabeth Blackmore) drive with David's drug-addicted sister Mia (Jane Levy) to a remote forest hut where Mia is to be poisoned under the supervision of her friends. But drug withdrawal soon turns out to be the minor problem when the group finds a mysterious book in the basement of the house, through which they awaken evil demons without knowing it. A fight against evil begins that is fought in a particularly bloody way…
"Evil Dead" does many things right that are done wrong by most contemporary horror remakes. Fede Alvarez has almost completely done without computer effects and has given priority to practical effects, make-up and prostheses. And that works very, very well. Even hardcore horror fans might get a little bit dizzy in their stomach during some scenes. Supported by a harmonious atmosphere and a camera work strongly oriented to the original, "Evil Dead" at least visually offers really excellent horror entertainment. And also the actors have to be praised at least partially. While Elisabeth Blackmore remains completely pale and replaceable, Jane Levy ("Suburgatory") as a young woman in the fight against drugs and demons delivers a really first-class performance for this genre.
Nevertheless, the script only manages to make the viewer really interested in the more replaceable characters. The original figures were already interchangeable and did not necessarily have a character depth. Alvarez has used the chance to correct this deficiency with his modified storyline, just only with Mia, but not with her comrades-in-arms. And since he puts more emphasis on the structure of a background story at the beginning than Raimi's film did, the one-dimensionality of his characters is of course more obvious.
Beyond that, "Evil Dead" is not only a well done remake (or a well done reinterpretation), but also a really good horror movie, that almost completely does without humor and instead tries to shock with extreme harshness and a lot of blood. Fans of the original will discover many small references to the cult film and should definitely stay in the cinema until after the credits. If you place a lot of value on a good story and sophisticated characters, you won't be able to enjoy the carnage much. But if you want to enjoy a horror movie of the old school again and are already tough, you shouldn't miss the 2013 version of "Evil Dead". Worth seeing!
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