The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 8, 2013 and was released in the United States on April 5, 2013. It grossed $97 million worldwide.
In March 2013, it was announced that the film will have a sequel, followed by a crossover with the original trilogy. Evil Dead was announced on July 15, 2013, to be adapted into a live experience as the first maze announced for Universal Studios Hollywood's and the second maze for Universal Orlando Resort's annual Halloween Horror Nights 2013 event. The film was loosely followed by a Starz exclusive television show, Ash vs Evil Dead.
In the woods, several men capture a frightened girl and tie her up in a cellar. It is then revealed that she is possessed, and her father immolates her and shoots her in the head.
Some time later, David and his girlfriend Natalie arrive at a cabin in the woods, where the pair meet up with his younger sister Mia and his friends Eric and Olivia. The group plans to stay in the cabin while Mia overcomes her addiction to heroin. It is later revealed that David moved to Chicago years before, leaving Mia to care for their dying mother. The group discover the cellar, littered with rotting animal corpses, a shotgun, and a book called the Naturom Demonto.
Eric, having some knowledge of witchcraft, begins studying the book. Despite written warnings, he reads aloud an incantation and awakens a malevolent force that finds Mia standing outside alone. Mia begins seeing things, and she asks the group to leave. They refuse, believing that she is simply experiencing the effects of withdrawal. Mia steals the car keys and drives away from the cabin, but a mysterious girl causes her to crash in a swamp. Emerging from the mud, the demonic girl chases Mia through the woods. Mia stumbles into a circular opening to a thorn bush and becomes entangled by possessed vines. The girl, a demonic form of Mia, emits a black tar-like thorn vine from her mouth that slithers inside and possesses Mia. David and Olivia find Mia and take her back to the cabin. David finds his dog killed and dumped under the shed, and goes to confront Mia, who is said to be in the shower, about it. In the bathroom, he sees her scalding herself in the shower. David tries to drive her to a hospital, but heavy rains flood the only road back. Meanwhile, Eric becomes more and more convinced that the book is the cause of all that.
That night, the possessed Mia comes into the living room with a shotgun and shoots David as a strong wind blows through the cabin, and Mia warns the others that they are all going to die tonight, after which she passes out. David instructs Olivia to get the gun away from Mia, but before she can, Mia wakes up and overpowers her, then projectile vomits blood all over her face. Olivia manages to shove Mia off, sending her tumbling down into the cellar where she is locked in. Olivia goes to the bathroom to clean herself and to get a sedative for Mia, and is terrified when she sees her reflection in the mirror that of a demon. The mirror explodes, and Olivia tries to rush back to the others, but becomes frozen and possessed in the process. Eric finds her cutting into her cheek with a mirror shard behind the shower curtain. Olivia attacks and wounds Eric, who grabs a broken piece of the sink and bludgeons her to death. In the shed, David nurses Eric, who says to have released "something evil". Meanwhile, Mia lures Natalie into the cellar, where she bites her hand. Natalie tries to attack Mia with a box cutter, but Mia takes it from her. She uses the blade to split her own tongue in half, before planting a bloody kiss on Natalie's mouth. David appears and helps Natalie get out, before chaining up the trapdoor.
Eric explains to David that, according to the Naturom Demonto, the Taker of Souls must claim five souls in order to unleash the Abomination. In the kitchen, while cleaning the bite wound, Natalie becomes convinced that her arm is infected and proceeds to amputate it with an electric knife. David does his best to patch up her wounded arm, while Eric continues to explain that Mia must be "purified" either by live burial, bodily dismemberment, or burning. As they debate, the possessed Natalie attacks the pair. David shoots her other arm off, purifying but bleeding her to death.
David plans to burn down the cabin with Mia in it. However, as Mia starts singing a song from their childhood, he has a change of mind and decides to bury her instead. He digs a grave, then enters the cellar to subdue Mia, who attempts to drown him. Eric intervenes and knocks Mia out, but not before being fatally stabbed. David proceeds to sedate and bury Mia, unearthing and defibrillating her afterwards, which causes the demon to be exorcized and heals her. The siblings reconcile. As David enters the cabin to retrieve the car keys, a possessed Eric stabs him in the neck with barb wire cutters. David locks Mia outside and shoots a gasoline can, killing Eric and himself.
With five souls now claimed, the Abomination arises and blood rains from the sky. As Mia battles the Abomination, she is forced to tear her own hand off after it is trapped under a car. She then halves the Abomination with a chainsaw. Its corpse sinks into the ground and the blood-rain stops. Mia escapes into the woods and wanders off into the distance. Unbeknownst to her, the Naturom Demonto is still intact.
In a post-credits scene, a silhouetted Ash Williams says "Groovy" and looks at the camera before it cuts to black.
In addition, using audio from the original film, Bob Dorian plays Professor Raymond Knowby during the credits and Ellen Sandweiss plays a voice cameo as Cheryl Williams. Bruce Campbell plays Ash Williams in an uncredited post-credit cameo appearance.
The initial letters of the five main characters' names (David, Eric, Mia, Olivia, Natalie) form an acrostic spelling out DEMON.
Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues co-wrote the script, which was then doctored by Diablo Cody in an effort to Americanize the dialogue since English was not the writers' first language. The film was produced by Raimi, Campbell, and Robert G. Tapert, who are the producers of the original trilogy.
Raimi and Campbell had planned a remake for many years, but in 2009, Campbell stated the proposed remake was "going nowhere" and had "fizzled" due to extremely negative fan reaction. However, in April 2011, Bruce Campbell stated in an AskMeAnything interview on Reddit.com, "We are remaking Evil Dead. The script is awesome [...] The remake's gonna kick some ass — you have my word." The film was officially announced that July.
Actor Shiloh Fernandez was cast in the lead male role of David. Initially Lily Collins was scheduled to play the lead female role of Mia, but dropped out in January 2012,. with Jane Levy replacing her the next month. Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore, and Jessica Lucas later joined the cast.
In January 2013, Alvarez commented on the ambiguity of the film's relationship to the original:
Now, the way I personally like to see Evil Dead (2013), it's as a story that takes place 30 years after The Evil Dead ended. The car is there, the cabin is there (a family bought it and did some work on it more than 20 years ago) and the book has found its way back to the cabin... New kids will encounter it and suffer its wrath. Is Evil Dead a sequel then? Maybe. But the problem with the sequel theory would be that there are too many coincidences between the events on The Evil Dead and the ones on Evil Dead to have happened on a continuous story line [...] But if you believe the Naturom Demonto can force these things to happen... then it could be a sequel... and I do believe in coincidences.
Alvarez, who also has a background in CGI, also confirmed in an interview that the film does not employ CGI (except for touch-ups): "We didn't do any CGI in the movie [...] Everything that you will see is real, which was really demanding. This was a very long shoot, 70 days of shooting at night. There's a reason people use CGI; it's cheaper and faster, I hate that. We researched a lot of magic tricks and illusion tricks."
Sam Raimi's 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 can be seen in an opening scene with David and Mia as they arrive at the cabin. The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 has appeared in almost all of the movies that Raimi has been involved with over his career.
TriStar Pictures released the film theatrically on April 5, 2013, in the United States, with Sony Pictures handling other markets. Fede Alvarez tweeted on January 28, 2013, that the film first received an NC-17 rating, which prompted cuts in order to obtain the contractually obligated R-rating. The film has been rated uncut as an 18 by the BBFC for containing strong "bloody violence, gory horror and very strong language". StudioCanal handled the release of Evil Dead in the United Kingdom.
Evil Dead premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX on March 8, 2013. The music for Evil Dead, composed by Roque Baños, was released by La-La Land Records in a 40-minute digital form and a 70-minute physical release, on April 9, 2013.
Evil Dead was released on DVD and Blu-ray, on July 16, 2013. The Blu-ray exclusives include commentary from three of the cast, and screenwriters Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, behind the scenes and a featurette, while the regular DVD will include three other featurettes.
An extended version, that has yet to be released, featuring an alternative ending and various other deleted clips and dialogue, some of which were featured in the original trailer but subsequently removed from the theatrical version, was aired in the UK, on January 25, 2015.
No one has yet confirmed whether this was an intentional debut for the anticipated "extended cut", which fans of the film have asked about since the theatrical release, or whether StudioCanal UK had inadvertently supplied Channel 4 with the wrong copy of the film.
Alvarez has confirmed on Twitter, that the version aired was not the extended cut.
Channel 4 has subsequently confirmed that the wrong copy of the film was supplied to them and that they have sent it back. They added that they have no other information on the version which aired and since the "extended/incorrect" version has been returned to StudioCanal UK they would not be airing it again. However, the extended version still airs on Film4. It was aired again on 13 February 2016, and yet again, on the night of 14 June 2016.
The film grossed $25.8 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office. It went on to gross $54.2 million domestically and $43.3 million internationally, for a worldwide take of $97.5 million, against its $17 million budget, making it a box office success.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 61% based on 178 reviews and an average rating of 6.1/10. The consensus states: "It may lack the absurd humor that underlined the original, but the new-look Evil Dead compensates with brutal terror, gory scares, and gleefully bloody violence." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Evan Dickson from Bloody Disgusting reviewed the film at SXSW and went on to say, "Evil Dead is amazingly gory and fun" and gave the film 4/5 stars. Chris Tilly of IGN gave Evil Dead 9/10 and called the movie a "terrifying, exhilarating and relentlessly entertaining new chapter in the Evil Dead story". John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter also gave the film a positive review, calling it a "remake that will win the hearts of many of the original's fans." Independent horror review site HorrorTalk gave the film four stars out of five saying it is "the most unrelenting and bloody horror film to come out of a major studio in a very long time". Emma Simmonds of The List commented, "Evil Dead has ample cheap shocks and few bloodcurdling frights but it builds to something gorily bravura and, if that's your bag, you'll come away satisfied. It's a while before anyone picks up a chainsaw, but boy is it worth it when they do." Matt Singer called the film "an assault on the senses" and "a success, one that out-Evil Deads the original movie with even more gore, puke, blood, and dismembered limbs. It may not be wildly inventive, but it is effective, and plenty faithful to the spirit — and tagline — of the first 'Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror.'"
Richard Roeper rated the film one star out of four, criticizing the film's unoriginality, the characters' lack of intelligence, and the film's reliance on gore for what he felt were cheap scares. He concluded his review by saying, "I love horror films that truly shock, scare and provoke. But after 30 years of this stuff, I'm bored to death and sick to death of movies that seem to have one goal: How can we gross out the audience by torturing nearly every major character in the movie?"
At the SXSW premiere event, Alvarez announced that a sequel is in the works. In addition, Sam Raimi confirmed plans to write Evil Dead 4 with his brother; it was later specified that this film would be Army of Darkness 2. At a WonderCon panel in March 2013, Campbell and Alvarez stated that their ultimate plan was for Alvarez's Evil Dead 2 and Raimi's Army of Darkness 2 to be followed by a seventh film which would merge the narratives of Ash and Mia. On October 30, 2013, co-writer Sayagues confirmed to DeadHollywood that he and Alvarez will not return for the sequel. That same month, Alvarez took to his Twitter that the rumor is not true. The next step in the Evil Dead franchise is a continuation of the original trilogy story in the new television series Ash vs Evil Dead, which began airing in 2015 on Starz.