Absolutely twisted with brutal demonic horror, crisp cult/splatter direction by Alvarez, strong characterization, & chilling forest visuals, although lacking Bruce’s Ash, this is the ultra-dark reboot fans deserve and rare original-level reboot. 7.5/10.
Mia (Jane Levy), a drug addict, is determined to kick the habit. To that end, she asks her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) to accompany her to their family’s remote forest cabin to help her through withdrawal. Eric finds a mysterious Book of the Dead at the cabin and reads aloud from it, awakening an ancient demon. All hell breaks loose when the malevolent entity possesses Mia.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Pros: UNBELIEVABLE opening – one of the best and most shocking in modern horror in years as you’re thrown right into a situation and have to uncover whether she’s acting or really innocent before tha gut-wrenching finale – also a great example of a genre trip, fantastic cinematography and dark-filtered visuals as well as sweeping nature shots and cabin – setting looks much darker and more chilling/believable something as dark as the ED might be lurking with all the Spanish moss and natural light/shadow play in even things like the trees, great cast who (despite a heavy script at times in its characterization) give us something horror fans were starting to think was impossible in a modern horror movie – characters you actually learn and start to care about, diversity in cast and story trajectories even branching into usually-untouched areas like drug addiction that also makes it more believable that they would be confused trying to figure out when something’s wrong with Mia or what is happening – Jessica Lucas also shines as well as Mackauly Caulkin – have not seen him since Home Alone but a nice addition and experienced actor as well as the Mia actress who really gets into her role and tries more than 99% of horror actresses especially for this type of low-budget horror, surprisingly palatable tone – doesn’t try to exude too much darkness or brooding until the horror begins, far better intro to the necromonicon and unleashing of the book – you much more seriously know something is wrong here than the original, breezing pacing and fast-paced action for a thorough rush of an experience, snappy direction and brisk pacing with strong showings in each part making for a phenomenally-enjoyable experience throughout, overall better visual effects in things like the forrest attacking and of course the ED chase scenes – with the better decision to characterize the force as a chilled mirror of the next victim with a brutally disturbing transference process, shuttering jump scares, absolutely TWISTED horror and demonic effects like trying to cut off your own face and stab with needles in the eye – and BRILLIANT decision to make the ED much more aggressive and just toying with each one individually choosing the way to make them do things to themselves, tons of Easter Eggs and references to the original like with the possessed hand and chainsaw, locking in the cellar, vine trapping, and even water-clad/pit fighting in reference to the oddball of the series Army of Darkness, smart decision to give Mackauluy a live and emotionally resonant death to add some heart to the horror only to bring him back and feature a bait-and-switch going against expectations allowing Mia to be redeemed and who we thought was going to survive dying, GREAT finale going in a completely different direction than the original with more macabre and primordial/religious gore than thought imaginable like oh my word with the raining blood that also gives more backstory and development to the ED as one of the few problems with the original and leaves you satisfied as a standalone itself that does what the best reboots do – feel authentic to the series and respect the lore and original premise (unsurprising having Bruce Campbell exec-produce here) while also taking it in new direction and not just copying the original, decision to go back to the horror of the series – I’m fine (occasionally somewhat indifferent) towards the originals after the first one as they got too goofy and comedic – differentiated it as a series and innovative but still.. this is horror – but this reminded me why I loved the series in the first place with how brutally twisted and gory (might be one of the goriest films in hollywood history but this is what we go into horror and not comedy expecting and that is not just okay but RIGHT) its premise can be, even the post-credits are artful in imagery and clear attention to detail and craft in filmmaking by Fede Alvarez, AMAZING post-credits tease of Ash!!
Cons: Evil Dead effects themselves and possessed look is shockingly subpar – how is it that the original made 30+ years ago had a more chilling ED look and make-up/effects with way less of a budget and technology available than one in 2013??? Eyes should’ve been blank white like the original and less dead/zombie-looking – although the execution of the film is brilliant, this is an objectively big problem when its the foundation of your premise, a bit too operatic and over-dramatic in the opening characterization – respectable they tried and succeeded in developing characters we care about but upon first watch it’s a little slow and somewhat heavy-handed, ending figure should’ve been a bit harder to take down
Official CLC Score: 7.5/10