Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.
I decided to plunge ahead and bought the 4K Blu-Ray release that Shout Factory! one of the reigning home video companies around released a couple of weeks back. Having not seen this movie in a few years, I remember enjoying it, but what are my thoughts now?
I loved this movie.
And even more, I believe that this “remake” is not only one of the better around these days, but given a few more years, it will become a classic, same as the groundbreaking “trilogy” that came before that.
What’s the story this time?
Mia, a young woman struggling with sobriety, heads to a remote cabin with a group of friends where the discovery of a Book of the Dead unwittingly summons up dormant demons which possess the youngsters one by one.
I remember my exact thought process when I first heard that they would remake this and it was the same exact one that every horror fan had which was “They will mess this up.” Besides at the time “Cabin in the Woods” a meta-commentary about the horror genre that literally used the original movie as a stepping stone came up a week before and was an eye-opener, a fresh survey. So, now that this movie was coming up, it felt like: “Christ, we’re going to watch the same shit again, only played straight and edgy, with not an ounce of humor.” And that was for the trailer alone.
So when I popped the disc I expected nothing more than an okay time waster. Well, I got much more than that.
The best analogy for this movie that I could write is this; Imagine a cover band playing “Freebird”. And they’re not reinventing the wheel, but those guitars are getting shredded so hard and so fast, with a giddy, demonic force that you really can’t help but to smile and go with the flow. This band is giving you a 1000% and could not give a fuck.
First, let’s talk about the fact that it pays tribute to the first two movies in such wonderful ways while giving us plenty of meat to chew on. Those last 20 minutes are unbelievably badass and a horror geek dream. The fact that this got an R and not an NC-17 is outstanding (although the disc does feature an unrated version, more on that later.) The cringe practical effects are a delight and so over the top, that it borders on the comedic, same as the previous movies. Having seen so many awful horror movies that rely on computers, it’s so much fun seeing someone cutting their own face open and realizing it’s not just pixels.
Shout out to Jane Levy who plays Mia, just an outstanding performance and easily carries this movie. A scream queen is born right before our eyes and it’s glorious.
Fede Alvarez and his co-writer Rodo Sayagues have done the impossible, which is to re-energize this franchise with fresh spirit and gumption. It has some camera tricks here and there that are tipping the hat to Sam Raimi, but this is his show and he lets you know that quick. I hope that he goes back to the director’s chair soon.
The score by Roque Baños is a great one, loud and bombastic (that siren sound, what a stroke of genius) yet soothing and calm when some of the emotional aspects of the story pop up.
Which leads me to some of the negative. The character development is nil, you don’t really care much about this group and they try to do this thing where the characters think that the demons are all in Mia’s head since the reason they’re in the cabin is so that she could quit cold turkey. It’s not a great plot point and it’s not well-developed. It’s filler. Also, some of the characters are not exactly too bright and do some truly stupid things for the sake of the plot. It’s a horror movie, I know, but still. (The girlfriend of Mia’s brother, I believe has only ten lines, which is insane.)
The unrated version has some gore that they cut, but they added some bad scenes that were worthy of being cut in the first place including an extended ending that for me was really weak and ruined the momentum. It has some cool tidbits, but the R-rated version is the best version of the movie for me.
In the end, the negative aspects of the movie don’t really matter. Who cares? You want to watch this group getting tortured, broken down, stabbed, destroyed, and possessed by kinky demons and the movie gives you that wrapped in the most delicious love letter of one of the coolest franchises around. I can’t recommend this enough; this is the type of movie that horror fanatics don’t get to have often.