My crew of cohorts and I went to go see the new Evil Dead movie this weekend. As a long time fan of the original cult classic and Bruce Campbell, of course, I have to do a review of it! As a die hard horror movie fanatic, this was a film I have been looking forward to since first viewing the crazy eyed Jane Levy desperately uttering "There was something in the woods." My commitment to seeing this movie was cemented when I watched poor Elizabeth Blackmore get dragged into the dark whole in the floor. I was hooked! From the make up to the cinematography to the predictable but beloved story, I walked in with certain hopes and was not disappointed.
Now, I have had friends call this on different occassions both a remake and a reboot. From where I sit and with what I know of remakes and reboots, this one currently qualifies as simply a remake. Unlike Star Trek, which has retconned (for the non nerds, google it) their whole universe allowing them to revive a vast and beloved franchise for old fans and new ones alike, Evil Dead and its companion films can be considered a "franchise" but as yet there are no official plans for the other two films to be remade. Knowing that, I will stick with the definition that Bruce Campbell gives and call this a remake.
A lot of people remember Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness as comedy/horror and they were. Evil Dead, on the other hand, was straight horror. It was intended to scare you and disturb you and, for the most part, it succeeded. It is entirely understandable that the people who built their careers on the back of this strange little low budget cult classic would want to remake it now that they have the opportunity to do it on a bigger budget and with a larger vision. They wanted to stay true to the strictly horror presentation of the original and, with the reimagined script from Diablo Cody and Fede Alvarez, this was pulled off masterfully. It was done in such a way that old fans would not be disenfranchised and new fans wouldn't feel left behind. Fede even managed to incorporate classic shots from the original film such as the POV chase through the woods without making it feel staid or tacky. The production crew was kind enough to also toss in some Easter Eggs for the old school fans. I won't say what, but keep your eyes...and your ears open.
Better special effects and makeup were the two things that I looked forward to the most about this remake. Special effects artist, C.J. Goldman, is known for his work on films such as 300, Dawn of the Dead, and Silent Hill. On this latest endeavor, he has, quite frankly, shined. He took gorgeous actresses Jane Levy, Elizabeth Blackmore and Jessica Lucas and made them look like broken, damaged, possessed and psychotic hell spawn who turned the stomach at times. Their performances and C.J.'s makeup were a match made in horror movie heaven. A follower of special effects makeup and its advancements, I looked for flaws. I searched for gross errors in application or shooting. I was hard pressed to find any. And the disturbing images are still lingering.
Now, there are always complaints about remakes that the story was "predictable". That there was nothing new and you knew where everything was headed. Unlike a reboot, remakes are allowed to do this. They are, in fact, expected to do this. Remakes are the film makers' way of saying "yeah this was good when we did it the first time (or awful). Now I want to do what I couldn't do with it the first time." With Evil Dead, Sam and Bruce wanted to be faithful to their old fans while giving new ones something to chew on. The story is basically the same one from the original. If you are expecting or wanting any blatant deviations from the original, you may want to skip this. However, if you are okay with a mostly predictable retelling of a beloved film, then go right on in, buy some popcorn, and have a seat. One thing that I like to think all fans of modern horror can appreciate is the more believable premise for a group of people spending any time whatsoever in a creepy fucking cabin in the middle of nowhere. Who does that?! Who in their right minds says, "Yep. This dilapidated pile of tinder miles from nowhere seems like the perfect place for weekend of frivolity with my friends." No one. Nope, not even once. But Diablo managed to rework things in such a way that you went, "Oh! Okay. I can see that." It also helped explain why when crazy shit started happening, no one was shocked or frightened the way they should have been. So, in that regard, the story swerves are practical and add a sense of believability that the former film lacked. Well, as much as you can expect from a film like Evil Dead anyhow.
So, that's it. I waited patiently for the remake of one of my favorite classic horror films for months. I waited and walked into the theatre knowing somewhat how this was going to play out and walked away feeling satisfied. There was a story I could appreciate from my youth. The makeup was gross and fantastic. And the pack of new stars did not let me down one iota. I stated earlier that they kept this away from the comedy genre that the two following films journeyed into and that is still true. But I feel like I need to mention one thing that we found very funny. And this is more a reflection on us than the film because I am sure Sam and Bruce never thought the gratuitous use of duct tape was going to be found amusing. You'll have to watch to see what I mean, though. I promised another writer I would do my best not to post any spoilers. Anyway, if you choose to see it or would like to add anything feel free to leave your comments. I'm always open to a lively discussion.