Release Date(s)2013 (September 27, 2022)
Studio(s)Sony Pictures Releasing (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C+
- Overall Grade: B
The thought of remaking one of the most popular horror films ever made was initially met with considerable backlash from the horror community, but when audiences walked into their local multiplexes in 2013 and saw a large banner on the wall for the remake of Evil Dead with the tagline “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience,” it made everyone sit up and take notice. Evil Dead managed to rake in a tidy profit for Sony Pictures, with the trailers and the word-of-mouth on the film showcasing it as one of the hardest R-rated mainstream horror efforts in quite some time, relying almost exclusively on practical make-up and special effects. Though it was produced by the team behind the original film, it also proved that director Fede Álvarez was a capable filmmaker, following it up with Don't Breathe and The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
Time has proven to be kinder to Evil Dead than many of the more recent horror remakes. Despite how successful it was at the time, it also had its fair share of detractors, most notably because Bruce Campbell’s Ash wasn’t in it and that it purportedly wasn’t truly an Evil Dead film without him. That subsided a bit once Sam Raimi and company revisited the character in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series later on, which was hugely popular for its three season run and gave audiences more outlandish horror comedy adventures with the character. After that, going back and revisiting Evil Dead was interesting. The first time around, most are caught off guard by how brutal it is on an aggressively visceral level, but the second time around, one tends to notice that there’s much more humor in it to be had—perhaps not laugh-out-loud humor, but certainly wit.
Jane Levy, who leads the cast, supplants Ash as the main character, though her excuse for being at the infamous cabin in the woods, which is to kick drugs with the help of her friends, is not really explored much. The idea of someone going through withdrawals while dealing with outlandish supernatural horror could have been used to the story’s advantage, but even so, Levy still turns in a dynamite performance, never afraid to go over the edge whether she’s inhabited by a demon or simply dealing with the evil she’s confronted with. The film also expands upon the Evil Dead mythology, but never takes anything away from the original films. It has its own identity, offering nods to the past for those paying attention, but without ever sacrificing itself to do so.
It certainly has a bit more of a Hollywood edge to it, using the Necronomicon as means of explaining what's happening in the story, whereas in the original, everything simply happens without any real explanation. The remake doesn't fully clarify everything, but it needlessly attempts to keep the audience on track, even providing a pointless prologue to give a bit of background. As for the unrated version, it re-institutes six minutes of additional scenes and moments, including David having to dismember Natalie in the shed with a chainsaw, Mia's mid-credits roadside pick-up, and additional and alternate gore moments. None of it’s really all that necessary, but it adds more flavor to an already appetizing stew.
Regardless of any of its perceived or obvious flaws, Evil Dead still manages to be as potent an experience as you could want from a horror film, modern or otherwise. Audiences at the time of its release agreed, putting the film over the $100 million dollar profit mark worldwide, which for a $19 million dollar horror film, was respectable business.
Evil Dead was captured digitally by cinematographer Aaron Morton in the RAW (4K) format using Sony CineAlta F65 cameras and Zeiss Master Prime, Fujinon Alura, and Angenieux Optimo lenses, and finished as 2K Digital Intermediate at the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Scream Factory presents the film on Ultra HD for the first time in both its theatrical and unrated versions from a “new 4K restoration by Sony,” graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available, though the latter is only included on the unrated version). An option to play either version is presented on the main menu, but the disc automatically selects the unrated version as a default option. Oddly, Scream Factory has chosen to present each version on a single BD100 disc. It’s not a major issue, but each presentation could benefit from slightly higher encodes on separate discs. As this appears to be an upscale of the original DI and not a ground-up restoration directly from the original 4K digital files, improvements are mostly marginal. It still has a minor softness, but the DI is primarily maxed out in these presentations. The cross-hatching and pixelization found on the Blu-ray of the unrated version is now gone, leaving a near perfect representation of its source. The color palette is aggressively stylized, and the HDR10 color grades get the most out of it. The Dolby Vision grade on the unrated version further enhances black levels, but contrast and color are generally the same in both instances. Some of the scenes lit by lanterns have an almost unnatural glow to them, but this appears to be the intent of the filmmakers and not a flaw of the presentation itself.
Audio is included on both versions in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 tracks are the same great tracks from the previous Blu-ray releases and the option of a stereo fold-down is a fine alternative for those without surround sound capabilities, but the lack of a Dolby Atmos track is sorely missed. As is, the 5.1 track is perfect in all respects with strong dialogue, sound effects, and score, and frequent low end, ambient, and panning activity. An object-based mix would have put it over the edge, enhancing overhead moments and further enveloping listeners. Regardless, the 5.1 is still a powerful track.
THEATRICAL VERSION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A/A+
UNRATED VERSION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A/A+
Evil Dead arrives on 4K Ultra HD disc as a Collector’s Edition package in a black amaray case with an insert and slipcover featuring similar artwork taken from the film’s main theatrical release poster. The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary on the Theatrical Version with Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Fede Álvarez, and Rodo Sayagues
- Directing the Dead (7:25)
- Evil Dead: The Reboot (9:51)
- Making Life Difficult (8:13)
- Unleashing the Evil Force (5:07)
- Being Mia (9:14)
- Trailers (2 in all – 2:41)
- TV Spots (20 in all – 9:04)
Outside of the TV spots (which include 15 US TV spots, 3 International TV spots, 1 Blu-ray and DVD release ad, and the film’s Wondercon trailer), there are no new extras included. Carried over is a great audio commentary with actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, director Fede Álvarez, and writer Rodo Sayagues, and five featurettes (Directing the Dead, Evil Dead: The Reboot, Making Life Difficult, Unleashing the Evil Force, Being Mia). Interestingly, only one of the film’s red band trailers and the international teaser trailer have been included, nixing the other red band trailer and the main green band theatrical trailer. It’s also worth noting that the Best Buy exclusive Blu-ray of the theatrical version includes a bonus DVD, which features A Conversation with Bruce Campbell and the Keeping It Real featurette, while several Blu-ray releases around the world add the additional featurettes: A Cabin in the Woods, Destruction of a Scene: Mia's Burial, and Destruction of a Scene: Blood Rain Sequence. A limited Blu-ray release in the UK by Sainsbury’s also included a bonus disc that contained interviews with Fede Álvarez and Jane Levy, as well as a Q&A with them both at a special screening of the film at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton.
Fans of the remake of Evil Dead are going to be mildly pleased by this upgrade. It’s not a vast jump in quality, nor are there are any new substantial extras, outside of the TV spot reel. But those who don’t already own it or anybody wanting to own the film in the highest quality possible (with both versions) will want pick this up.
- Tim Salmons