The ’80s certainly weren’t a golden age for the horror genre. Rather, a small package of films (namely “The Evil Dead,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Shining”) dove deeper into the more deranged, more gory and more WTF than previously screened. Resurrecting a timeless 1981 original like “The Evil Dead,” a bloody blend of laughs and ankle-stabbings, means a tall order. However, a rookie director stitches together a remake pregnant with most of the original’s delicious ingredients.

Evil Dead

B
TriStar Pictures
Playing at Rave & Quality


Our filmmaker Fede Alvarez (“Panic Attack!”) agrees to build a faithful adaptation without surrendering all creative plotwork. He massages the cult fans by implementing the blood faucets, ghost-like lensing and laughable character decision-making. Alvarez gets his, too, though: He updates the narrative with credible spices, like drug addiction and a racially diverse crew.

But “Evil Dead” accredits many of its wins to its predecessor, and its silly losses seem negligible given that it’s 2013, for crying out loud. No one ever said recycling former material persuasively would be easy.

The story packs in all the derivatives you’d expect: island cabin, absent sunlight and five fairly ignorant 20-somethings. The clan revisits the abandoned family cottage for the first time since their early years, but now with an alternative purpose: to cure David’s (Shiloh Fernandez, “The East”) sister Mia (Jane Levy, “Fun Size,”) from her undying addiction … the hard way. Her emotional episodes of withdrawal pales in comparison to the discovery of a room full of hanging, rotting cats. In the center of the room rests a book — if opened, an alarm clock to the dead. Needless to say, they crack open the fucking thing.

Bizarre events ensue. As the stoner Steve Jobs-lookalike flips back the pages of the demonic tome, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci, “Beginners”) discerns demonic hidden passages. Upon reciting them, our guiding lens abruptly shifts to a freshly awoken zombie perspective, zooming through a dark forest. One by one, he unknowingly unleashes hell. To make matters worse, our unscrewed junkie sister goes ballistic, pukes gallons of orange-ish fluids and showers in broiling water. It turns out this book is more than just witchcraft voodoo shit — it’s a no-capacity upward escalator from Hades.

The break-neck speed of Alvarez’s camera adds tension during dry moments. Sometimes, it’ll fool you into thinking you’re going through the point of view of a zombie; actually poses you as an invisible spirit eager to incarnate a special someone. Nothing moves like this, and we’re along for the ride.

“Dead” may not always feel spooky but it sure as hell looks it. Complete with a color-robbing filter, the dense wood shares equally the depressing blues and flavorless grays — lifelessness at its apex. A muted glow of faint skylight shoves through the blackening branches.

Chop-’em-up cinema routinely gathers the consensus of piss-poor acting. Alvarez somehow makes you think you’d react the same way as one of these characters. Absurd? Doubtlessly. But wouldn’t you behave absurdly if your pal ate his face off? To relegate this movie’s component as “cheesy” may simply mean that viewers struggle stepping into others’ shoes.

Too bad the redundancies slow the film’s momentum. At one point during the drafting process, the writers ditched the story’s framework, gutted any comic potential and spitballed death tactics. It loses flavor when the Dead devolve from creepy to annoying.

If the 2010s usurp as the golden age for horror, “Dead” won’t quarterback the list. Nevertheless, a strong remake of a semi-serious pic never hurt.

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