Evil Dead unravels like a movie you’ve already seen: Teenagers head to a cabin in the woods. Teenagers do something idiotic. Teenagers die. At face value, this next jaunt into wooded territory doesn’t sound very appealing or fresh. And that’s not even broaching the fact that director Fede Alvarez has entered sacred ground, remaking the Top Dog of Cult Classics, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. That alone is enough to make the hungriest of Internet trolls come out of hiding.
Nevertheless, this new gang of victims-to-be heads to their chosen secluded locale in order to help their friend Mia kick a nasty drug habit. Mia’s brother David joins in the efforts to help her get clean…that is, until their friend David reads from the book of the dead and releases an evil that was long dead and buried. Note to those planning on staying in a cabin. In the woods. If you find a creepy book that warns you, in writing, to not read or speak its words aloud, you probably shouldn’t read or speak its words aloud. Please see below:
So Mia tries to escape her intervention weekend and crashes her car and is raped by a tree, naturally. I’m really glad that they kept the tree-raping in, and yes, I realize how awkward it is that I actually typed those words out. Mia starts acting cuckoo nutso, and her friends conclude that her body is just trying to kick the junk. I suppose it makes sense that they would default to withdrawal symptoms instead of demonic possession, but if you ever find yourself in a secluded cabin with me and you start acting all bonkers, I’m knocking your ass clean out and chaining you up. Consider yourself warned.
And here is where the zany begins. There will be blood. And lots of it.
It’s commendable that the film’s story brings its characters to its dreary setting without alcohol, sex, or partying in the forefront. Avoiding these tropes was really Step 1 in “How to Be Taken Seriously When Remaking a Cult Classic.” The drug arc was a sensible plot device and helped make an already dark tone even darker…and modernized.
The problem with Evil Dead: its actors. Though lead final girl (or is she!?) Jane Levy was fine enough, none of the other cast members really incite any real feelings or connection with the audience or each other. This lack of chemistry is evident throughout, and it bleeds through to their characters’ relationships. I wish we felt the strong connection they were supposed to have. Speaking of bleeding…
The reason to see this movie is for its deliriously disturbing gore. On this note, Alvarez hits it out of the park. Following in the footsteps of the original production, no CGI was used during filming (only during post) – and lets just say that a lot of fake red stuff was spilled. Given the film’s lack of a standout character and charming leading man (Bruce Campbell…we miss you), this gory circus show delivers on a level that makes us forget about the movie’s aforementioned shortcomings. After all, The Evil Dead‘s 1981 incarnation was really just a silly venture for viewers to have fun with and not take too seriously. So hey, why nitpick the new kid in school?
Early attempts and discussions about remaking the Mac Daddy of cult films brought fan outrage and Internet geeks out in droves. The negative reaction almost prevented the film from even happening, and I get it (I hang my head in shame over that Carrie remake trailer). Raimi’s The Evil Dead is a special, special film, but rest easy: its legacy hasn’t been tarnished here. Though the odds may have been stacked against it, this particular remake is far from sacrilege.