By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Fede Alvarez’s remake/re-imagining/sequel to Sam Raimi’s cult classic horror film The Evil Dead delivers thrills, chills, cringe-worthy gore galore, and just a little humor, making this an exciting and sensory overload of a horror film experience. Horror fans and fans of the original Evil Dead movies will relish the shock, awe and the blood that gets spilled by the gallons here.  This film will not appeal to all tastes. Non-horror fans should beware. This movie gets brutal.

Mia (Jane Levy), her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and their closest friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) have assembled to help Mia quit drugs cold turkey.  They decide to take a trip to their family’s old cabin in the woods and support Mia as she goes through withdrawal.  The group discovers that the cabin had once been the site of bizarre, cult-like rituals and finds a book known as the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead).  Out of curiosity, Eric decides to read passages from the book and soon regrets doing so as it unleashes an evil force that intends to possess their souls.

Written by Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues and Diablo Cody, based on Sam Raimi’s original story, and directed by Alvarez, Evil Dead is an insane, balls-to-the-wall, horror/gore fest that delivers shocks and thrills unflinchingly. The plot is basically the same as Raimi’s original film, but also treats the events of the story as a modern continuation of the first movie.  Alvarez obviously has a lot of respect and reverence for Raimi’s film and lovingly adds the perfect nods, winks and Easter eggs to his film.  Alvarez does not hold back when it comes to the violence and gore, with the intent to shock and disturb modern audiences.  In fact he gets a bit overindulgent with his use of blood.  That probably is my only criticism of the film. The overuse of the blood begins to lose its effect. Thankfully, he steps up the violence in key moments of the film to snap audiences out of this desensitization.

The cast assembled for the film all deliver stunningly well. Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci and Elizabeth Blackmore make up an exceptional ensemble and all credibly portray their characters.  I was particularly impressed with Jane Levy who portrays a multi-layered character.  She acts as a troubled addict, a demonically possessed woman and a loving sister and friend. Ms. Levy displays a wondrous range and I look forward to seeing her in more films.

Horror fans and fans of the Evil Dead franchise shouldn’t walk, but should run to the theaters to watch this insane and disturbing whirlwind of a flick. The movie does have an R rating and surprisingly doesn’t have an NC-17. Leave the young kids at home, curl up together at a theater and the squeamish should be prepared to cover their eyes. This movie is relentless.

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