The producers of the original 1981 cult horror classic bring to the screens a new vision of terror with Evil Dead from TriStar Pictures. Can producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell along with writer Diablo Cody outdo the original with added blood, guts, and improved special effects or is it a waste of film that should just be chained in a cellar in the middle of nowhere?
David and his girlfriend, Natalie, are en route to a weekend retreat at his mother’s cabin in the woods to meet up with his childhood friends, Olivia and Eric, but this is no vacation. This is actually an intervention for David’s sister, Mia, who became addicted to heroine after their mother died. The plan is to be in the middle of the woods so Mia can detox without being able to run away and quit.
While Mia’s detox is going horribly painful as expected, David and Eric stumble upon a scene of macabre in the cellar. Among the gruesomeness, Eric locates a book covered in plastic and wrapped in barb wire. To his curiosity he cuts off the wires and plastic to find a evil and satanic book bound in flesh. The book tells no one to read, say or write its contents, but Eric lets his fascination overcome his judgement. After reading an incantation, Eric unleashes an evil upon the house that makes Mia its first possessed victim, but because she is hallucinating and talking crazy, the rest of the group just thinks it’s her detox. It’s only when the evil truly shows itself that everyone must attempt to stay sane and survive until dawn.
Many people consider The Evil Dead from 1981 to be one of the most iconic cult horror classics of all time. It was Sam Raimi’s debut as a director. It launched the acting career of Bruce Campbell and made the character of Ash Williams a household name. To today’s standards of gory gross outs and over stylized violence, this generation of horror lovers may just look upon the original as hilariously cheesy and campy. To me even the remake can fall into that category. While of course modern day special make up effects technology combined with CGI and creepy lighting create a more ultra violent approach to the story, it’s still the same goofy plot that has been done again and again like you’d see in a Friday the 13th. A group of friends try to survive from some sort of evil threat while they are camping.
To refresh myself, I rewatched The Evil Dead just to prep myself to critique the remake. While I was sitting in my theater seat, I was having trouble trying to determine if Evil Dead was even a remake or just a completely different set of kids experiencing the same set of horrors the cabin has to offer. The film is filled with subtle hints that if you are indeed a fan of the original, then you’ll instantly pick up on. Characters have different names and have completely different purposes to be in the woods, but on the other hand five people get possessed after discovering the Book of the Dead or “Necronomicon.” The first victim gets sodomized by tree branches and eventually gets chained in the cellar while the others one by one start their downward spiral into the depths of Hell.
My disclaimer is that I am not at all a fan of the original. Now while I do love Army of Darkness and the character of Ash, I just don’t think The Evil Dead is a good movie. Now I do have my personal guilty movie pleasures, The Evil Dead just isn’t one of them. So does it deserve a remake? I’m saying no, because over the years enough movies have stolen or honored the original, Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever and Joss Wheedon’s The Cabin in the Woods immediately come to mind.
I feel the only thing the remake offers is this generation a chance to experience the same concept of the story but with revamped effects, but nothing more. The characters are forgettable unsympathetic stereotypes: girl on drugs, concerend brother, blonde girlfriend, other concerned friend, and nerdy friend. Frankly I didn’t find the movie scary. I don’t think I jumped once in my seat. Instead the audience that attended the screening with me was too busy laughing at how ludacris the scenarios were or yelling at the characters to either run or don’t go into a dark room. This to me is sad because the movies posters and marketing are claiming Evil Dead is the scariest movie you’ll ever see. I think the other thing odd is that the movie was written by Diablo Cody who won a friggin’ Oscar for Juno. I guess I was looking for more of an explanation or background into the Necronomicon or the “Evil” in the same way Rob Zombie explained the origin of Michael Myers with his reimagining of Halloween.
Evil Dead, I think, is really going to polarize audiences to complete opposite spectrums. Fans are going to love how producer Sam Raimi really influenced the remake of his 1981 original from specific types of camera shots and zoom ins, to specific key elements and Easter eggs they lay abundant for the die-hards to spot. Non fans are just going to think it’s the same recycled plot and characters in a ridiculous situation. It’s hard for me to say the film is awesome or terrible. I guess I’m stuck in the middle, so I’ll call it average.
If you want to see Sam Raimi’s career come full circle, The Evil Dead is available now on Netflix streaming which I do recommend you watch before seeing the original to catch all the references and his latest film, Oz the Great and Powerful is in theaters now.
If you are a fan of the original, stick around during the entire credits to listen to a special easter egg and something that is pretty cool that I don’t want to spoil.
In Theaters: April 5, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language)
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Genre: Horror, Remake
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
Official Site: http://www.evildead-movie.com/