As a massive fan of the original trilogy, I was always going to see the “Evil Dead” remake that just came out last weekend. Even if was an absolute disaster, I think that at worst a remake can highlight the amazing things the original did right and never has to get watched again. But if it’s done well, a remake might bring an technically superior and innovative new light to a cherished but aging story. I don’t think that a movie like “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” took anything away from the magic I experienced watching the original three. I can just chose to ignore the crappy fourth installments without resorting to rape metaphors, and move on with my life. Basically I’d rather have it and hate it than not have it at all.
I didn’t want to read any reviews because I didn’t want to get biased by what other people were saying, and with such an iconic cult material in the spotlight, fanboys can be unforgiving to the point of insanity. I did however catch little glimpses of how polarizing the movie was with audiences, and after having seen it for myself I’m not surprised. The thing is that even after having a night to sleep on it, I’m still not sure whether this was a really good horror movie or just an unnecessary remake. It definitely left an impression, I’m just undecided on what that means.
“Evil Dead” falls squarely in the gritty-reboot camp, and screams/bleeds/vomits all over the counselors there. The original, for those who haven’t seen it, was an independently produced horror movie back in 1981. For the most part, it took itself more seriously than its increasingly campy sequels (not a bad thing, just pointing it out). But the special effects obviously haven’t held up that well over the years, and while still genuinely scary at times can feel dated. So it’s cool to see a new spin on the classic with a bigger budget and modern movie making techniques at their fingertips. Not that horror films need an abundance of high end special effects; in most cases less is usually more. I think that’s why it was such a good thing Sam Raimi and some of the original producers were brought on board to help with the remake. These were guys who worked with practically nothing the first time around, and they did it goddamn well.
The premise is mostly the same, a group of young adults go away for the weekend to an old cabin in the woods, and when someone inadvertently reads from the Necronomicon horrific evil (presumably of the dead variety) is released which proceeds to torment and torture the unsuspecting group. One thing I actually really liked about the remake is the reasoning behind isolating themselves in this rundown cabin is actually to help one of the girls detox from her heroine addiction. It plays into the story really well in terms of her relationship with the others, the dismissal of her warnings as hallucinations, and the group’s refusal to leave when things start to get creepy. There is also a particularly visceral opening act that does a pretty good job of both setting the tone for the movie and laying down some groundwork for understanding the plot.
The rest of the movie, not to give anything away, is pretty fucking gruesome. I love me some horror movies, so I’ve seen more than my fair share of stabbings, flayings, disembowlings, electrocutions, immolations, and eviscerations. “Evil Dead” definitely had me squirming in my seat. Now for a movie like “Hostel” or some equally detestable torture porn, I’m not really into it. Gore for gore’s sake isn’t really my thing. But when it’s part of a well crafted movie, especially with a supernatural premise, I’m all for it.
Love it or hate it, I think this movie will leave a lasting impression. It boasts some truly frightening moments, and more nods to the original than you can shake a boomstick at. At the very least, it’s not a soulless Hollywood remake that makes you question your faith in humanity. Although there’s enough blood and guts and “tree rape” in this movie that you may do that anyway.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!
~ Jonny Green