A few cliches remain, but ‘Evil Dead’ is genuinely scary

Jane Levy in TriStar Pictures' horror EVIL DEAD.
Jane Levy in TriStar Pictures’ horror remake of “Evil Dead.”

‘Evil Dead’
Director: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

Because the sequels took a goofier stance, it’s easy to forget that Sam Raimi’s first, scrappily no-budget 1981 film “The Evil Dead” is a serious, harrowing experience that only masochists would consider a fun time. The new sorta-remake of Raimi’s breakthrough, unexpectedly co-produced by him — one could say inexplicably, considering the Diablo Cody screenplay credit — retains the intense, genuinely nightmarish tone of the original. Here, as there, being forced to perform self-amputation doesn’t, a la “Evil Dead II,” result in an amusing Ernest Hemingway joke.

As with the original, a quintet of collegiates visit a creaky cabin, where one of them finds — and very foolishly reads aloud from — a mysterious book made of human skin and written in dried blood. Inevitably, a demon latches onto the one (Jane Levy) who’s supposed to go cold turkey from a smack habit, who promptly goes from sickly to a super-carnivore prone to “Exorcist”-y obscenities.

“Cabin in the Woods” was supposed to end audiences’ preoccupation with the titular horror cliche, and this new “Evil Dead” gets major brownie points for playing it completely straight anyway. It also, alas, subscribes to the notion that characters ought to behave idiotically, none moreso than Levy’s dedicated brother (Shiloh Fernandez), whose insistence that his sister’s merely in the grips of withdrawal extends well past being monstrously delusional.

Director Fede Alvarez powers through the inanities and inconsistencies, cranking up the dread with a pukey color palette and an army of fog machines. There’s few bodies to rip through, so the final survivors are kept inhumanly spry. It’s safe to say few screen characters have sustained this much physical damage and (almost) lived, with one taking hits from a kitchen knife, a syringe (to the eye!), a nailgun and a crowbar.

Is it the most terrifying film you will ever see (as per the ads created by the studio)? No. That would be the “Up” documentaries. But it’s effective, despite the inevitable fan service, including a post-credits gag that isn’t quite in keeping with the grueling tone. Its uneasy gender politics do prove interesting. The demon-parasite (or whatever) first enters the picture as a tentacle-thing crawling into Levy’s nether regions (in an equivalent of the original’s notorious tree-rape sequence). The women go first, leaving it up to the dudes to sort out — but don’t think it won’t find a silly way to get itself a Final Girl.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.