There are certain films that horror fanboys, (and girls) would have you believe should never be remade. They should exist forever in their original state, a testament to their genius. The Exorcist, The Shining, Suspiria, Videodrome and Don’t Look Now to name but a few. The Evil Dead definitely fits into this category. Its fans are some of the most hardcore that I know, their love of this cheap as chips video nasty runs deep, I know because I am one.
I went expecting another poorly conceived and executed rehash. I left pleasantly surprised at what someone can do when they truly love the original.
Director Fede Alvarez is obviously a fan of the original films. Their fingerprints are all over this well executed remake. He has approached this with the right attitude and tries to deliver all of the elements you would expect from the original films but brought to you in a way that twists it so as not to deliver a shot for shot remake, (Gus Van Sant’s Psycho anyone?). The Oldsmobile is there, the swing is there, the close up clock shots are there but only as references and not as a part of the story. At times this feels as though he might have been co-erced by Raimi, Campbell and Tapert, (all on board as producers) to include some of these familiar items so as not to alienate the old fans. Personally I thought it was a nice touch.
With this new Evil Dead they have tried to introduce a more cohesive plot, instead of a group of demon fodder twenty somethings just going up to a cabin in the woods for no obvious reason this time we are introduced to the gang as holding an intervention for their drug addicted friend, Mia (Jane Levy). Her older brother David is there with childhood friends Eric (the nerd), Olivia (the nurse), and Natalie (the blonde). This makes for some interesting ideas on withdrawal. Are the things Mia is experiencing just part of her going cold turkey? This isn’t explored for long as the shit starts to hit the fan in glorious bloody and gory style.
When the splatter starts it’s actually a welcome relief. One of the negatives of the film is the first 25-30 minutes. There is a completely erroneous opening scene that is in no way relevant to the rest of the film. I have no idea why it wasn’t cut.
Also in trying to introduce the characters to us our leads all have to act. They seem to struggle a little with this, emoting is not their strong suit.
But one possession later (this will make most women in the audience cross their legs), we have our first Deadite and the film takes off and takes off in a tidal wave of effluvia.
While you could argue that most of what happens next has been done before I would argue back that it has been a long time since I’ve seen it done so well. The fact that Alvarez has used virtually no CGI in this film is a real feather in his cap. The gore is brilliantly well done, he seems so proud of what his team has accomplished that the camera lingers on a few scenes to the point that you are almost begging him to stop. In particular are a shot involving a Stanley knife and a tongue and an electric bread knife and a possessed arm. From there we have rivers of blood and gore, he really has turned it up to eleven with the amount of the red stuff that we see. He keeps the shocks coming thick and fast and you barely have chance to catch your breath, (one scene in the bathroom had another of the Early Bird team pressed so far into his chair it nearly enveloped him). Characters fall, toolsheds are visited and redemption of sorts is found by fiery purification.
You need to go into this film and be prepared to switch off your critical brain and just enjoy it for what it is, an extravaganza of blood and guts and a very loving nod to a horror classic. On the whole I think it has succeeded in bringing a 32 year old franchise right into the modern-day. Where it goes from here I don’t know but if they keep Alvarez on board then I think they are on to a winner, he’s a real horror talent and one to watch.
If you like your horror creepy and subtle you may not get the most out of this, but if, like me, you like it loud, in your face and with tons of blood and sinew then this is the film for you.
Well worth the admission fee.