The “Evil Dead” franchise has been revived, and horror fans are the benefactors.
This rebooting of the 1980s cult classic that launched the career of filmmaker Sam Raimi is exactly what fans of the genre are looking for – a splatter-and-gross-out fest that pays homage to the original while providing a slightly new spin.
“Evil Dead” has your typical horror movie plot – a group of friends venture out to a remote cabin in the woods trying to help Mia (Jane Levy), a recovering drug addict.
They discover a mysterious book that, when read, opens a gate to the underworld, unleashing a demon that is intent on destroying the world.
Director Fede Alvarez digs deep into the genre’s familiar bag of tricks but concocts a movie that is a pretty bloody good time.
“Evil Dead” has several set pieces that are gory and head-turning, but also a little bit suspenseful.
Fans of the original will appreciate the nods to that film, including the “demon cam” racing through the woods. This version could have used a little more of the original’s sense of humor, but it is still pretty fun.
The cast is OK, with Levy the standout of the group, but this is the kind of movie where the cast doesn’t matter. This is more about the experience, with fans of horror films looking for that cinematic thrill ride.
On that level this “Evil Dead” delivers.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s bloodthirsty bit of revisionist history “Django Unchained” (A-). It’s another outstanding film from Tarantino – a spaghetti western set in the Civil War era that melds blood-splattering violence with biting social satire.
Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave freed by a former German dentist turned bounty hunter named King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).
Schultz agrees to help and train Django and make him his partner in exchange for information on his latest bounty. This act sets in motion a partnership that culminates with Schultz agreeing to help Django get back his wife, now owned by a ruthless Mississippi plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Like “Inglorious Basterds,” this is a film that takes a preconceived genre (in this case, the western) and runs it through the Tarantino grindhouse. This is a film full of rich dialogue and memorable performances – a blend of high-octane bloodshed with very dark and twisted humor.
Waltz, the Academy Award winner for best supporting actor, is nearly as good here as he was in “Basterds,” providing “Django” with the true heart and soul of the film. Foxx hits the right notes as Django, while DiCaprio is clearly having fun playing way against type.
Just when it looks like “Django Unchained” might be losing a little steam, Samuel L. Jackson arrives as Candie’s loyal servant, who may not be everything he seems.
I’ll concede that “Django Unchained” kind of flattens out in the final half hour for reasons best left spoiler-free. It’s a minor complaint, however, for a movie that ultimately proved to be one of the best of 2012.
“Django Unchained” is rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity, and will be available on DVD on Tuesday.