One of the biggest questions that has been getting asked about the remake of The Evil Dead is “Why?” Granted, you could ask that about any remake of a horror film, but it has always felt like The Evil Dead has this quality about it that you can’t quite put your finger on. There’s just something about the movie, whether it be the creepier aspects of it or the humor of it or the dedication of the filmmakers on a shoestring budget, that made it feel impossible to be able to recreate. Granted, most horror movie remakes aren’t attempting to just recreate the original but typically “reinvent”, but still, can’t we leave the classics alone? I keep an open mind when I hear about remakes, and luckily with Evil Dead, the more news I heard about it before its release made me more excited. One of the first bits of news made public was that there’d be no “Ash” character, nor anyone even attempting to capture what Bruce Campbell so effortlessly captured a few decades ago. Another piece of news, possibly the most important piece of news, was when the directors made it clear that there would be no CGI effects. Maybe “no CGI” is a bit of an exaggeration, because you can’t literally set an actress on fire, but all of the gags would be done practically and then combined in post. Lastly, when the film was up for approval by the MPAA, the original cut would’ve gotten an NC-17. HOLY SHIT! That’s a lot of trees getting raped. They did end up cutting a few things, but no major effects or scenes got cut, merely trimmed. With all of this news, I went into the screening with high hopes, and boy, those high hopes were met.
It still grosses me out that people do this to their tongue ON FUCKING PURPOSE.
A girl is running through the woods and is eventually captured by two guys and brought back to their family’s cabin, where her father tells her he must purify her of her evil and so he sets her on fire and shoots her in the head. FUCK YES. We come back to the cabin at a later point in time where a group of friends have gotten together to give Mia (Jane Levy) an opportunity to kick her drug habit. While trying to cut her habit cold turkey, she has hallucinations and fits of screaming and lots of things a crazy person would do. While investigating a smell in the basement, the cabin-dwellers come upon a room full of dead cats and a book wrapped in a plastic bag and barbed wire. Yup, it’s THAT fucking book. While Mia makes a mad dash to get out of the cabin by running through the woods, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) reads from the book, at which point Mia is overcome by evil. When she comes back to the cabin, all of her friends have a hard time noticing the evil that has overcome her, thinking it is merely from quitting the drugs, but things get serious when she starts to hurt herself and others. When they try to leave the cabin, the violent thunderstorm they are experiencing washes out the only bridge, trapping them in the woods. Mia’s outbursts start getting more and more intense, and quickly everyone realizes they’re dealing with something far more serious than someone going through drug withdrawal. Sadly, that doesn’t prevented them from getting stabbed and puked on and heads bashed open and limbs cut off and OH MY GOD SO MUCH CRAZY SHIT. Will David (Shiloh Fernandez) be able to cure her of her evil by following a ceremony in the book, or does all fucking Hell break out in the process? Hint: all Hell breaks loose. The end!
Would you like light meat or dark meat? LOLOLOL NAILED IT.
Let’s first talk about the things that this movie did different from the original before talking about how they handled the reinterpretation of the source material. The opening sequence I described was something that was only sort of mentioned in the original films and never really explored. To show a little bit more backstory of the evil that has been at the cabin not only expanded on the mythology of the franchise but it was also a balls-out way to kick the film into high gear very quickly. The reason why all the people have gathered at the cabin and the whole notion of not being able to differentiate between drug outbursts and being possessed might have been a little hokey, but it gave these characters an actual reason to not only visit the cabin, but to also STAY at the cabin. I don’t want to give away too much of the film, but the last 20 minutes are all pretty different from the original, and I don’t really know how I feel about it. In the original, we had a scene where Ash was burying his girlfriend and the emotional trauma was pretty horrific, but in this version, the lead male characters was burying his sister and that whole sequence was intended to be very emotional. This sequence happened a little bit earlier in the original film than it did in this version, but I felt that the movie had built up so much momentum, that having an emotionally driven sequence really took the wind out of my sails. Add to that a resuscitation scene where a character throws together a car battery and some needles to jumpstart someone’s heart without any pervious explanation as to why they were so mechanically inclined, those ten minutes really didn’t do it for me. However, once the carnage resumed, it went even MORE insane than everything you had seen prior to that, so it almost made up for it. Seriously, they went all out with the ending. It was crazy.
Seemed like an odd choice to play “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” over this sequence but I mean I’m no filmmaker so who knows.
I was never really scared by The Evil Dead because the effects looked so cheap that, despite being entertained by them, I couldn’t really take them seriously. Considering how far special effects have come over the years, you can rest assured that the effects they used in this movie were FUCKING INSANE. I mean, seriously, holy shit. It was bonkers. Again, I don’t want to give away all of the effects because you really have to see them to believe them, but if you want an idea of how far the filmmakers went, just check out the Red Band trailer for the short version of what they do in the movie. Another pretty cool thing that they did was that they managed to pay homage to the original movie without necessarily recreating the moments exactly. Sure, a character cuts her hand off, but she does it with a meat carver instead of a chainsaw. You see the iconic chainsaw, you see the iconic shotgun, and those things are utilized but not to the same capacity as in the original. They were really able to bring a much higher production value to sequences like the bridge being knocked out or the scene where Mia is violated by branches, so seeing those scenes at their full potential was pretty cool too. I’d say that if you’re a fan of the original franchise, you won’t enjoy this film as much as any of those, but can at least respect how far writer/director Fede Alvarez and writer Rodo Sayagues went to try to recapture some of that original insanity for a new generation. If you’re open to enjoying a remake as much as an original or don’t hold The Evil Dead in too high a regard, or maybe if you love seeing people getting stabbed in the face with syringes and raped by thorny branches and cutting their owns faces off with shards of glass, you’ll probably love this gore-filled nightmare of a roller coaster ride.
Wolfman Moon Scale
I’m definitely with you re: remakes–I also try to keep an open mind. I do wonder what makes this an “Evil Dead” movie if so much has been changed, though. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily; but did you feel at all as though they were just trying to capitalize on the name recognition? (I haven’t seen it, so I have no opinion–just curious.)
I got to speak to the filmmakers and pretty much asked them the same thing: what is the heart of Evil Dead? I’ll have more details when I post my interview, so keep your eyes out for that, but a big part of it was the frenetic nightmare feel of the whole thing. It’s meant to be an onslaught of the senses that never really lets up. I’d say that I’d never really thought of it that way, in coming from that mindset, this remake definitely captures the absurd, surreal, and nightmarish feeling.
Wow, right on. That’s pretty much the best description of Evil Dead you could hope to get. Honestly I hadn’t really considered watching it, but after your review maybe I’ll give it a shot. Keep up the good work!
Interesting, I’m looking forward to seeing it. From the trailer the pacing looks good and the acting styles draw me in. The original has it’s fans but I think I’ll enjoy the acting and direction more in this updated version. I’m not sure what my reaction to all the blood will be, the original was campy with stop motion animation that made it easier to handle for the squeamish. This looks overboard sea of blood.
I’d say it’s more of a thunderstorm of blood than a sea of it, but that was pretty close! If incredibly gruesome effects isn’t really your thing, you might want to skip it.
I’ll shield myself from the thunderstorm with my girlfriends unconscious prone body.
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pretty spot on review, wolfguy! i wonder if there was a bridge in the fancy sxsw version you saw because there certainly wasn’t in the version i saw. i thought they could have put the twisted girders in there as a nod to the original franchise since that was so iconic. but alas, it was just a shallow creek that got washed out in the rain. no bridge.
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