Evil Dead (2013)
It’s finally here. After months of fans drooling over the teaser trailers, Evil Dead, the remake/sequel-thing to Sam Raimi’s much-acclaimed The Evil Dead, has arrived. And it is awesome.
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve watched the original film. For those not in the know, however, The Evil Dead is about five college-age kids spending their vacation in a cabin in the woods. The cabin is a little rustic, but it all seems rather cozy until they discover a book and a tape recorder in the basement. The kids play the tape, which contains the recordings of an archeologist, who explains that the book is the Naturon Demonto and that it’s used to summon demons; it’s worth noting that the Naturon Demonto is called the Necronomicon in later movies. The man on the tape recites an incantation, and all hell breaks loose. One by one they’re possessed by evil spirits, turning them into psychotic monsters that can only be destroyed if they’re dismembered. The Evil Dead is a maniacal bloodbath as the main character, Ash, fights back against each one of his possessed friends, ultimately defeating them by burning the Naturon Demonto.
The Evil Dead is a horror classic, so it’s not surprising someone in Hollywood decided to remake/reboot/capitalize on it. Although the new Evil Dead isn’t a remake per se, it does take the same basic elements from the first movie – five college-aged kids, remote cabin, Necronomicon used to summon demons – so I feel justified in saying that Evil Dead is an example of a remake done right. Although I am often a champion of bad movies and on occasion an apologist for them, I’d find it hard to deny that the recent spate of remakes/reboots of classic horror franchises have missed their mark. You will probably cry heresy when I say that I actually liked the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I admit that it was lacking something that made the original unique and scary, that hallucinatory conflation between dream and reality. Evil Dead is an example of a remake done right, because it has that special something: the spirit of the original movie.
Evil Dead is relentless, visceral, and over-the-top to the point of absurdity. Like its predecessor, Evil Dead starts off with a scare, goes somewhat slow, then ramps up the action and doesn’t let up. The tension is rarely broken, maintained by the frequent, violent fights between the kids and their possessed friends. I don’t usually think I’m squeamish, especially after seeing the Saw series and Cannibal Holocaust, but this movie made me cringe…in a good way, I assure you; it kept me on edge. There are a lot of grievous injuries to make your skin crawl and copious amounts of gore and other excretions; clearly director Fede Alvarez is taking after Sam Raimi. To top it all off, there is a hint of dark humor in the film, playing out in the over-the-top sequences that strain credulity; mind you that I’m saying it’s straining credulity in a film about demons possessing people.
Evil Dead captures the spirit of the original film by mustering all these elements. It has the same ‘all hell breaks loose’ kind of frenetic action from the original, as well as the occasional slower, eerier moment to maintain that relentless tension. It has the same visceral horror and icky gore. It even has that same glimmer of humor, which was fairly subtle in The Evil Dead but became more pronounced in the sequels, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. Add the stylish cinematography, bigger budgeted effects, a new plot that I won’t spoil for you, and a genuinely surprising, kickass climax and Evil Dead has the all the qualities to make it a classic in its own right.
Evil Dead will not depose its predecessor from its throne. The Evil Dead has the advantage of low budget charm and Bruce Campbell on its side. However, I highly recommend it for fans of the Evil Dead series – should we call them deadites perhaps? – and first timers to the series alike.