Reanimating the Evil Dead

EVIL-DEAD-jane-levyWhen you say the words Evil and Dead together … extremely specific things come to mind. For many horror fans, the first is, of course, Ash. The iconic, tortured hero played proudly by the one and only Briscoe County Junior – Bruce Campbell – “The Chin” himself. Secondly and strangely, after that, it’s love. Love for a movie that, since originally being released has inspired countless fans and professionals to mimic, gush over and above all watch and rewatch and throw parties over and recite dialogue from and laugh and be horrified and … well, you get the idea.

For those of you unaware or a little lost in the mythos, Evil Dead (1983), was one of powerhouse director and producer Sam Raimi’s (Spider-Man, Oz the Great and Powerful) early works. Low budget, full of schtick and completely bonkers, this was appointment television after midnight for kids like me. True story – as a kid, I once set my alarm to wake me up 10 minutes before Evil Dead  and Evil Dead 2 came on Cinemax at 2 a.m. so that I could sneak downstairs and get lost in the carnage.

Fast-forward years later and of course the Hollywood remake machine gets refueled, refired and reworked for a whole new generation of horror fans. Luckily (and unluckily … weird how this happens) back for another run at the ole cabin in the woods is Sam Raimi, this time as an executive producer, with newcomer Fede Alvarez at the helm.

Okay, so it’s a remake … yada, yada … what’s it about? Well, it’s about 5 kids, a bad book and one idiot that decides not to follow directions. Something gets woken up … and bad things start to happen. Really bad things. Enjoy.

Haven’t we’ve seen this before? I mean, isn’t that the basis for almost every horror film out there. Bad decisions lead to bad things?

Well … yeah … but it’s Evil Dead … So … you know. Hush.

Besides, this time out, with a much larger budget and a fan-base itching for more, more, more, Alvarez ups the gore to a new level and tries to push the envelope in terms of what his poor victims can take.

Filled with cringe-inducing moments overflowing with spurting blood, chunky demon/zombie vomit and nail gun wounds, I couldn’t help myself but giggle nervously as more and more pain was dished out to the young quintet. This film is not for everyone. While mass audiences will swarm looking for the next big thing, this is the kind of horror and gruesome imagery that only a select hub of people can enjoy and happily, I am one of them.

Filling out the cast is a group that some people will recognize but most people won’t. Unfortunately, in a film like this, there is only one or two characters that really matter so luckily, everyone does their parts effectively. Along with that, instead of just wandering to place filled with evil or deciding to go on a little trip to, quite possible, the worst place to relax, the filmmakers have given the young offerings a reason to be there and best of all a reason to not get the hell out of there right away when the bloody poop hits the fan. Smart.

However there are two places that I think this film falls short. The style with which the film is made and the last act of the film. Clearly, Alvarez is a fan of the original. At the same time, it’s clear that he is extremely talented. The film looks great. Technically sound with solid pacing – for most of the film – this version of Evil Dead would be a good horror film on its own. However, throughout the film are techniques that are very specific to Raimi’s style of filmmaking and sadly, I think it actually holds the new director back a little. Immediately a certain tone is set for the film and at times, I feel as though these particular techniques unbalance and undermine the director’s work. Nostalgically, I understand why they were used – but for me, they just didn’t fit in this new vision.

In terms of the second act, it’s just a little too long. I’m all for more, more, more, but (and please note that I am not giving any spoilers away) but at the end a decision is made for a character that can best be described as and then, and then, and then. It’s gets a little too long for me and not as satisfying when the end credits started to roll.

Overall, yes, please check this movie out. As executive producer, I believe that this is the film Raimi wanted to originally make. Over the top, shocking at times and completely gruesome, the remake of Evil Dead is enjoyable, is worth of the iconic title and will be in every horror fan’s collections. While perhaps not at as groundbreakingly jaw dropping as the original proved to be (in its time), this version is solid entry into the horror genre and a fantastic outing for a new director like Alvarez.

3.9 out of 5 dead hanging cat corpses

Leave a Reply