In preparation for Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, I took a look back at his first feature film, Evil Dead. Based off of Sam Raimi’s cult classic The Evil Dead, this version takes certain liberties which end up paying off, big time. It’s tough to compare both of the films side by side because the tone of both films differ greatly, but Alvarez’s version is able to stand on its own, where comparisons need not be made.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Evil Dead follows a group of five friends who travel to a remote cabin in the woods to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) kick a nasty drug habit. Shit starts to get brutal after Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and their friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) find the Necronomicon, or The Book of the Dead, in the basement of the cabin. Unbeknownst to the whole gang, Eric read from the book and ended up conjuring an evil entity from hell.
I love, love, love this movie. Director Fede Alvarez, along with his writing partner Rodo Sayagues, did a great job with the script. They were able to come up with a story that deviated from its source material and gave us something new, wrapped up in something familiar. The duo also succeeded taking a campy classic and reinvigorating it with modern day horror seriousness. For those not familiar with Raimi’s The Evil Dead, it’s a perfect blend of camp and gore, that many try to imitate, but never find the right balance. So to see Alvarez and Sayagues hit all the right notes without resorting to camp is impressive. You could tell they wanted to make sure that their version was going to be their version and not some cheap knock-off of a classic. The only major tying factor for both of the films is the Necronomicon itself and the rules that go along with the book. The director also does a solid job giving us the visuals that will last a lifetime.
Which brings me to the blood and gore. It is fucking great. The amount of blood used in this film is obscene and I love it. Don’t get it twisted, this was not like a Japanese horror flick, where it’s just ridiculous and over the top, this movie did right by making sure the buckets of blood were used wisely and enhanced the visuals– except of course for the final sequences of the movie, where it’s literally raining blood and it’s just nuts. The gore in this flick is definitely something to write home about. We get a good amount of self-mutilation; someone cuts their own arm off, another person cuts their own face, and another burns their skin own skin off with scalding hot water– it’s great. A big shout-out is in order for the special effects and makeup departments. They did a superb job in transforming our protagonist Mia from an addict trying to kick a habit, to evil incarnate. Mia’s demon look is forever singed into my memory banks– those fucking eyes.
The next stop on the kudos train is the solid cast. All actors involved did a heck of job with the material. Jane Levy was awesome. The young actress showed great range when it came to her performance. She played a great addict going through withdrawal, and she did an even better job portraying the demon that’s been summoned by the book. Her stages of transformation are definitely something to witness. Actor Shiloh Fernandez does a good job playing the concerned older brother card. His character was a little weak to start off, but he makes up for it once he grows his balls back and actually starts trying to fix the situation.
I cannot reiterate how much I love this movie. In my eyes, it’s an instant classic and does great justice to the source material. From the movie’s introduction, where we see the previous victim of the book, to the final sequence, where Mia has to rock a chainsaw to take care of business, this film hits all the right marks. After watching Evil Dead, I’m as hyped as ever to see what Fede Alvarez will do next. //Arturo Padilla