There are only a few horror movie classics which fit neatly into their respective sub-genres rather than redefining them. Night of the Living Dead helped to shape what a zombie movie should be, Psycho (besides being the first movie to show a toilet on screen) is the definitive thriller, and Halloween is one of the most iconic slasher films of all time that helped to skyrocket the genre into fame. But The Evil Dead is nestled comfortably within the funhouse horror subgenre, where gore reigns supreme and your plot doesn’t have to make tons of sense. So how does the reboot fair in this respect? Does it work at all when the original film did it so well?
Let’s look at the Raimi and Campbell produced film, Evil Dead.
There will always be a love in my heart for the original Evil Dead trilogy, and you’d be hardpressed to find horror fans who don’t agree with sentiment. Raimi’s over-the-top directing and habit of putting his actors in real danger, Bruce Campbell’s sheer wacky charm that still makes the ladies swoon and raise eyebrows that really took the films to a new level, the crazy plotlines, the fakey-fake gore – all of it working together to make manic movie magic. So when I heard a reboot was in the making, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think about how dumb this film would be, how it would pale in comparison to the greatness of the original. How could anyone be Ash when Bruce Campbell mastered the role? How could any director get the kind of crazy gorefest going the way Raimi could? But I’m actually glad to say I was pleasantly surprised.
First of all, it’s not exactly a remake. The plot is not a carbon copy of that from the original 1981 The Evil Dead but rather a new plot taking place in the modern day with none of the characters. I’m personally relieved because there’s no better way to sidestep the issue of who would be replacing Ash by not having Ash in the movie at all. However, this makes it feel like they slapped on the title to give some legitimacy to a gory horror film.
The plot revolves around Mia, a drug addict, who is taken by two childhood friends, Eric and Olivia, her brother David and his girlfriend Natalie to a secluded family cottage in the woods to help her go cold turkey on her dangerous addiction. They discover that the cabin as recently been used for more sinister purposes (which are shown in a very well handled opening scene) and find the fabled Naturom Demonto. Of course, curious Eric reads from its pages and unleashes all manner of terrifying demonic hell on the world and they must all fight to survive.
I won’t give away too much, but personally, I think the film does a good job constantly upping the ante of crazy gore as the mounting suspense rise about who will and who won’t survive the night. Personally speaking, there were times when I had to close my eyes (albeit peaking every so often) because the scenes of violence got so intense. On the other hand there are some very minor plot points arise here and there that aren’t distracting while you watch the film, but may have you scratching your head afterwards. There’s some issue about what counts as a soul being taken and what doesn’t. Also I’m not sure if the demon payoff is all the great at the end (just looks like another deadite but creepier) but the final battle is fun to watch and even feels a little nostalgic.
For those wondering, the film does not require you be familiar with the original to fully enjoy it. The main purpose of the movie is to get as much blood and dismembered limbs on screen as possible and make the audiences scream as much as they can. I will say its disappointing that all of the zany camp of the other films is nowhere to be seen in this very serious reimagining. The deadites are the same foul-mouthed, gross fare that we’ve come to expect from the series, and are still as bizarre and deranged as ever. There are also lots of little references here and there to the original trilogy of films so for the big fans, you’ll be able to spot them pretty easily.
The cinematography is pretty good, especially considering how ugly and gritty they made everything look. The gore still looks sort of fake, but that was part of the charm of the original films and I’m glad they decided to continue with it. That’s not to say that the gore itself looks unreal or comical, but it maintains a look that’s not quite realistic enough. The actors do a great job with their parts, and the special effects are all up to par without being too showy or noticeable It’s the type of film where you forget that it’s all stage makeup and editing tricks.
Ultimately, Evil Dead is an incredibly enjoyable film and any horror fan, especially those who loved the original, should at least give it a watch. It’s one of those films you’ll be screaming and hollering the entire time, in both in fear and joy. While it hasn’t surpassed the original, it still remains are a product of quality. Hopefully, if the rumors of sequels are true, they will be just as good, if not better, than this one.
– Delivers exactly what it promises.
– Good plot overall.
– Strong cinematography.
– Lacking camp from the original trilogy.
– Some mild plot issues.