A very well-done debut by young Sam Raimi, this is (unlike its jokey sequels) a serious-minded horror film that has fright as its main concern. Five college kids go to a remote cabin, where they find a book and a tape which contain incantations to summon demons. One by one they are possessed by the malevolent evil in and around the cabin, with bloody results. Pencils are stabbed through ankles, body parts are severed, and a woman is raped by an evil tree. The best scenes involve the chilling initial possession during a card game and the attempts by the hideously demonic Ellen Sandweiss to convince star Bruce Campbell to free her from the cellar where she's been locked. Fast-paced and filled with some amazing camerawork, (though the special effects aren't very special and give away the budget) it is a remarkably kinetic film, full of the energy that only independent filmmakers can seem to muster, and has more than its share of scares and chills.
by Robert Firsching review