A respectable remake, and that’s not entirely a compliment. It has just enough over-the-top bloodbathery to earn a nod as worthy homage to the original. What’s missing is Sam Raimi’s trademark hysteria, the marriage of horror and humor and its dizzying pitch that wired up audiences with such a galvanic jolt. Instead, we have serious backstory and character development, which rip the movie out of its exploitation roots. These teens find themselves at the “cabin in the woods” in order to help one of them kick drugs, and you can maybe take what happens as a kindve-sortve allegory about withdrawal and recovery. But let’s face it: we go to EVIL DEAD for the butchery, and on that score, we do get rewarded. A woman is raped by a slithering tree branch, a man slips on the tongue he has just cut out of an attacker, a nail gun does as much damage as an assault rifle, a skull is crushed to brain pulp, and the sky rains blood, under which a chainsaw is rammed down a demon’s throat and guided upward to a most satisfying bifurcation. Even at just an hour and a half, it could have been tightened up, but I still give it a (severed) thumb up. — Jeff Schultz

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