- Directed by Fede Álvarez (Feature Directorial Debut)
- March 8, 2013 (SXSW) / April 5, 2013 (US)
- Based on The Evil Dead by Sam Raimi
Five friends head to a remote cabin to help one of their own where the discovery of the Naturom Demonto causes them to accidentally unleash demonic forces. Who thinks messing with a weird looking book is a good idea?
The point of any remake should be to smooth out the rough edges of the original. Usually those rough edges are in the narrative but on occasion they are in the general presentation. The Evil Dead’s main/major flaw was that rather than use prosthetics they used what looked like eyeshadow and blush more often than not. As for the narrative, while not perfect, it was nothing so terrible that a remake could or would make it better. Though limited by budget, it got much more right than it got wrong and I’m not necessarily sure if there are any rough edges that needed to be smoothed out.
Evil Dead opens on a very promising note with a rather disturbing scene that would have fit nicely with the original Evil Dead film. Absolutely messed up. A woman is captured by some hillbillies who are reading from the Naturom Demonto. It is tearful and leads you to think the girl is the victim until it flips the script and reveals that this is an attempt to save the young woman’s soul. Promisingly bizarre but not kept up.
There are plenty of visual acknowledgements to the original film. The one that jumps out the most to me is the dilapidated Delta 88 (Ash’s trusty car and ever-present vehicle in the films) that shows up when the victims arrive at the cabin. Not obvious but rather casually slipped in. All but the end credits scene with the legendary Bruce Campbell saying “Groovy” more serious than his character ever has that is.
There are times when this movie parallels if not outright mimics the original. Our final girl Mia (Jane Levy) even loses her hand in a fashion similar to how Ash did in Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. And there are other moments it is a completely unique entity. Is this a remake? Is it a soft reboot? I’m not sure which it is supposed to be though. It’s officially classified as remake but does not even have character names from the first.
My problem is that what made the first one effective is not present here. Originally it was a group of friends out to have a good time and things went to Hell-literally! What we get here are a bunch of people that seem to barely like each other getting together in a remote area to help Mia get off heroin cold turkey. They are taking digs at each other the whole time and seem rather resentful of the girl they are there to help. You cannot become invested in if they live or die.
Unfortunately, all their problems require a great deal set up. That takes away from executing a horror story. We have to delve into their relationships and their personal issues rather than getting to the scares?
This has much better effects and is overall better produced than the original. That is not enough though. I don’t hate it, but it’s certainly not all that it could be. It’s disturbing but not scary when it finds the time to be horror rather than expound upon the group dynamic. It feels more like fanfiction than it does anything else. The demons are not nearly the tormentors that they were before. There’s apparently at least the implication from the narrative that there’s some kind of larger plan to what they are doing.
Evil Dead as a remake of The Evil Dead is okay but not great. It’s something that will entertain, but it’s not nearly as entertaining as the original. It’s a curiosity to be checked out, but not much beyond that.