I’ve had a long history with Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD series, and when a remake was announced, I was torn. Like many of you reading this, I have a negative gut reaction to any remake news. (Though I’ve come to terms with it to a certain degree.) But it was hard for me to stay away, especially with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on board!
EVIL DEAD is an enjoyable modern exploitation flick that truly delivers all the gore, violence, and awesome makeup f/x that was promised by its creators. This redo of the 1981 classic follows five young adults who come to a spooky cabin in the woods to have an intervention for the heroine-addicted friend, Mia (Jane Levy).
Naturally this cabin, abandoned for years, was the scene of a demonic cleansing, and a certain Book of the Dead was left behind. (As you’ll discover in the cool, but unnecessary opening of the film.) Naturally the Necronomicon is found, and despite written warnings (DON’T READ IT, DON’T THINK IT, DON’T SAY IT!), one of the members of the group recites a passage.
This awakens something in the woods, and soon, a bodiless POV shot careens through the forest. The unseen force leaps into Mia, who quickly begins to turn creepy and violent. Things then begin to play out exactly as you expect them to. Demonic forces possess each person and force them self-mutilate and kill, until someone violently stops them.
As each of Mia’s well-meaning friends perish, a demonic presence is keeping score. You see, if anyone reads from the book, and five souls are claimed by the demonic forces unleashed by The Necronomicon, a being called “The Abomination” will arise from Hell.
As the film heads towards its splatterific climax, Mia is left to fend for herself against the dreaded Abomination. Will her mysterious foe swallow her soul? Or will she claim victory by force-feeding the vile creature a chainsaw? To find out, be sure to check out this remake ASAP!
The 1981 classic THE EVIL DEAD was ripe for a redo, and I’m pretty content with the one handed to us by producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. They picked a young cast of relative unknowns, and hired an untested director (Fede Alvarez was basically picked because Raimi loved his short film PANIC ATTACK). It was a pretty big risk, but it paid off.
As an added bonus, this movie is packed with more visceral practical f/x than I could have possibly imagined. (I’m amazed at what made it into the theatrical cut!) However, had the new EVIL DEAD not contained copious amounts of carnage in the second half, this would just be another generic PG-13 demonic possession flick.
The effects save this movie, because otherwise it isn’t all that interesting. As it stands, the script for EVIL DEAD is the film’s only big issue. Some of the dialogue (courtesy of Diablo Cody I assume) is groan-inducing at times, and the characters are mostly dull and one-dimensional. And please don’t give me grief for saying that, because there are plenty of other over-the-top horror films that manage to give us likeable, fleshed-out characters. A good example would be Peter Jackson’s DEAD-ALIVE! Though it’s arguably the goriest film ever made, it actually takes some time to give its main characters a story arc!
While it didn’t entirely blow me away, I will admit EVIL DEAD is one of the better horror remakes to come out in a long time. While it fails to create compelling characters, it delivers more blood and guts than the bulk of Hollywood’s recent crop of Horror flicks. It’s an impressive start for a first time director, and I believe that the new EVIL DEAD is worthy of: