Much like meddling with a certain sinister, leather-bound book, remaking untouchably classic works of horror is a notoriously risky business thatís seen more than its share of expensive, creatively lifeless misfires. But as a venture both conceived and produced by the Evil Deadís original creators, itís out of an artful balance of authenticity and fresh cinematic vision that director Fede Alvarez unleashes his exceptionally gory, gloomily atmospheric retelling.
Backed by painstakingly thorough knowledge of the 1981 original, directorial first-timer Alvarez supplies nostalgic nods in all the right places, while studiously avoiding any attempt to recreate the movieís unchangeably historic highlights. Having respectfully substituted chainsaw-wielding í80s hero Ash for an altogether more complex protagonist, this ultramodern revision sees heroin addict Mia (Jane Levy) and friends head out to a remote cabin in an endeavour to lay her ruinous habit to rest. But what begins as a sobering retreat takes a terrifying supernatural turn that, through mind-bending parallels between the hysterical throes of drug withdrawal and demonic possession, warps the boundaries of reality beyond recognition.
Exchanging carefree vacationing college kids for claustrophobic undercurrents of dread and decay, Alvarezís gloomily-shot spin on cabin-in-the-woods horror sows the seeds of impending doom long before this veritable orgy of gore and torture porn gets underway. And once the floodgates are finally slashed, bludgeoned and hatchet-smashed wide open, the thick and fast assault of bloodshed that follows is nothing short of relentless. With the original movieís sweeping, demonís eye view camerawork souped-up to whiplash-inducing new extremes, the sheer momentum of each scene is an ultra-violent feat in itself, with classic, Raimi-esque cinematography adding nightmarishly surreal menace to the mix.
But despite being orchestrated around all the possessed appendages, revving chainsaws and creaking trapdoors youíd expect of such a remake, the supercharged panache with which Alvarez deploys these classic trappings is unmistakably his own. Saturated in a foul, ever-flowing torrent of bodily fluids and pulpy gobbets of flesh, wickedly sadistic use of splintered syringes, broken glass and domestic appliances is guaranteed to make even the most hardened horror fan wince.
While Alvarezís back story of addiction and dysfunctional family ties is, in places, a tad too heavy for such a visual, wildly entertaining gore fest, his unique premise nevertheless adds darkly absorbing substance to the originalís altogether sketchier storyline. And while the 1981 editionís riotously demented Ďvideo nastyí charm will forever belong to an iconic era of filmmaking, itís equally a joy to see the Evil Deadís ultraviolent spirit brought to life through this extravagantly gory 21st century lens.