by Caitlin Marceau
Evil Dead (2013)
Directed by Fede Alvarez
When a group of friends arrive at an isolated cabin to help one of their own overcome her addiction to heroin, they quickly find themselves facing evils beyond their wildest imagination. They accidentally summon the Taker of Souls by reading a passage from the Naturom Demonto, and soon the demon—trapped in addict Mia’s (Jane Levy) body—is trying to murder everyone in order to raise the Abomination. The film ends in a climactic sequence, in which in the demon in Mia is exorcised, all her friends and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) are murdered, and her fight against the ultimate evil culminates in her ripping off her arm and slaying the Abomination with a chainsaw as blood rains from the sky.
Based on the 1981 film The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, this movie is often overlooked when talking about The Evil Dead franchise. Not quite a reboot, not really a sequel, this reimagining of the Necronomicon lore and an Ash-like origin story is impressive in its own right.
In the original film Ash is forced to square off against his possessed sister, Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), who has fallen victim to the evil summoned by the Book of the Dead. At the film’s climax, Ash is forced to kill his sister and then survives another two movies and a TV show. However in 2013’s Evil Dead Mia, who is essentially a reinvention of Cheryl’s character, goes from being a helpless victim of the Necronomicon to the hero of the story. Her journey takes her from playing a modern Cheryl, to Ash. In a genre that’s been criticized for celebrating the victimization and brutalization of women, this change in her character is a welcome one. All too often women are forced to take the backseat in horror, and are restricted to the role of the victim instead of the hero. Evil Dead did an incredible job of subverting our expectations of Mia’s character in a story that was already familiar to audiences.
The movie is also a great commentary on substance abuse, and how it’s only in the face of death and trauma do individuals often find the strength to overcome addiction. Mia’s character is literally buried during the course of the movie, and is symbolically reborn (only this time without the demon possessing her).
But if you’re only here for the blood and gore, and don’t really care about much else, then you’re still in luck. Evil Dead used so much blood on set that, for just ONE day of filming, they used a whooping 50,000 gallons of of the stuff. They also wanted to make a callback to the original work, and used practical effects for the bulk of the film (with the exception of some slight CGI touchups in post).
If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, and even if you’re not, 2013’s Evil Dead is worth a watch. With blood, chainsaws, and the Necronomicon, what more could you want in a weekend horror flick?