Who likes to see filmmakers attempt to remake a classic movie? Nobody, that's who! It works about ten percent of the time, with the other ninety-percent ending up smelling to high heaven. You have your Ocean's Eleven, and then you have your Psycho. So, like every other Evil Dead fan, I freaked out when I heard they were going to remake it. It just didn't seem like a good idea. Why bother messing with a classic? After hearing that Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert, and Sam Raimi were producing it, I settled down. As you've probably noticed, I'm a little late with this, considering the movie came out in March. I wasn't incredibly excited to see it, so it took until now for me to rent it. So what did I think? It's....different. Let me explain.
The Evil Dead is a classic of horror cinema and it also-unbeknownst to me when I first saw it-has a huge cult following. It's a classic because the liberal use of blood, the creative camera usage, the bare-bones look, and the corny one-liners. Evil Dead (yes, the new movie is titled Evil Dead, not The Evil Dead) takes a few cues from the original, but tries to be its own movie. This is good because you can't make a shot for shot remake of a film and expect it to go over well (I'm looking at you Psycho). Evil Dead couldn't be overly hokey, couldn't look cheap, and couldn't reuse dialog. The Evil Dead was a movie for the 80's, and this is one for the 2010's. The best way of describing Evil Dead is saying that it's like they put the first two Raimi films in a blender. It takes several cues from both classic films, but leaves out the humor. Seriously, there are no lighthearted moments in this movie.
While The Evil Dead dealt with five teens going to a cabin in the woods to just have fun, Evil Dead has five teens going out to a cabin in the woods to try to clean out their user friend. Something that was nice about the original film was the lack of back story. You didn't need to know anything about the characters except for associations. You had a brother and sister, the brother's girlfriend, and two other friends (the two other friends were boyfriend and girlfriend in the original). There you go! Who cares about their back story, it's a horror movie. Evil Dead decides to give at least the two main characters, the brother and sister, a back story. Their mom went nuts and the brother left Michigan for Chicago, we assume because he can't cope with his mother's illness. This leaves the sister all by her lonesome, who eventually breaks under the stress of it all and becomes addicted to heroin. The trip is a way of everyone trying to make the sister go cold turkey, this time with the brother back in the picture. Some might say that a back story helps you feel for the characters, but it doesn't help me. I usually root for everyone to survive, even if they don't. I only don't care when the movie tries to make you hate a character. So the added story didn't really do anything for me, but I knew exactly how they were going to use it.
To keep this review a little bit shorter, I'll just go over a few similarities between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead. The biggest one is the situation: five kids from Michigan at a cabin in the woods, with no way out and crazy stuff going on. The main villain, "The Force," is the same, with both movies using a POV shot to show the demon's perspective. The way everyone is taken by the demon is the same, usually coming from direct contact with a possessed person, or Deadite. The pendent makes an appearance in Evil Dead, though instead of a gift to the girlfriend from the main character, it's from the brother to the sister. The reason I'm sticking with just labels is because the names are not the same in each movie. The main character in The Evil Dead is obviously Ash, while in Evil Dead, it can be argued whether it is Mia or David (the sister and brother). A few weapons from The Evil Dead make a return, namely the shotgun and the infamous chainsaw. In both films the sister is the first to be possessed, after being raped by the woods. Yes, you heard me correctly. I was honestly surprised they kept that part in. The sister is then locked in the basement for most of the film, though serves as the main adversary. The male friend is again the one that releases the demon, though the way they do it is completely different. While Scotty played a recording of a professor reading the words from the Necrinomicon (the Book of the Dead), Eric simply reads the words out loud from the book, even though there is writing all over it that tells him not to. Oh, Eric. The Deadites do the same tricks as in the original, claiming they are back to normal and not actually hideous demons who want to eat your soul. The best similarity between the two movies is the similar camera work for when Ash/David is getting things ready in the shed. Pure genius. I loved it.
bookcases falling on people rendering them completely immobile.
I liked a few things about the movie. First off, the blood and gore was up to par with The Evil Dead. It might have even surpassed it in some ways. A lot of the weapon use was cringe-worthy, especially the utility knife, syringe, pneumatic stapler, and the electric knife. This film is relentless; once the story starts to get going, it never stops. The twist with the main characters was great, and I think the acting wasn't that bad either. It's not too hard to be better actors than the ones in The Evil Dead though, no offense to Bruce Campbell. I just appreciate that the filmmakers made a film that was all their own. It wasn't a shot for shot remake, but it also wasn't a incredibly loose interpretation. You knew while you were watching it that this was The Evil Dead. What I didn't like about the movie was the obvious foreshadowing. Seeing the characters use the electric knife and the stapler made it glaringly obvious that those items would be used later on as weapons. Like I said before, I didn't really like the whole back story. It took away from the film in my opinion and gave them all really stupid reasons for doings things. They decide not to leave the cabin at first because they think if they leave Mia will go back to heroin. Everyone feels indifferent to David because he moved to Chicago. David wimps out of doing a bunch of awesome stuff because he feels that he can't do anything wrong to his sister. David is kind of a weak character in general. He is convinced the whole time that everyone is alright, that maybe it's just some kind of sickness that his sister has and all they need to do is get her to a doctor. He must represent delusion or something, while Eric represents the audience, constantly trying to slap some sense into him. The last gripe I have is the ending. You can't have a happy ending in an Evil Dead movie! Something bad is supposed to happen!
If I had to give the movie a grade, I'd give it a solid B. Not bad for a remake. Let me know what you thought about the remake. Did you like it? Hate it? Even love it? Word is they are coming out with two sequels, the last one that will tie-in with the original trilogy. I'm a little intrigued by that, though I don't know if that involves Bruce Campbell playing Ash again. He's kind of too old for that now. It hurts me to say that, but it's true. I still love him anyway.