You are going to be disappointed at the new Evil Dead reboot. You have to be. With all the fanfare that has lead up to the release this week-end, how can you possibly walk out of the theatre thinking it was ‘all that’?
There has been talk of an Evil Dead sequel or reboot for eons. The original film was released in 1981 and it quickly went on to become a horror cult classic and made a B-movie star out of one Bruce Campbell.
Campbell and Raimi wondertwined their powers a few years later and released Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn in 1987 and then completed the trilogy with Army of Darkness four years after that.
The three Evil Dead movies are held in high regard within the horror community (although, I would argue that if you released those same films in 2013, they would be despised). Yet, here we are. Over thirty years later, the franchise is still relevant and first time feature director Fede Alvarez was handed the keys to the cabin to reboot the series. And the results are….marvelous.
Alvarez and Academy Award winner Diablo Cody (Juno) worked on a script that stays true to the basic elements of the Raimi/Campbell collaboration. A group of friends head to a cabin in the woods where they discover the Book of the Dead. The discovery unleashes demons in the remote woods and possesses them one-by-one until there is but one final individual fighting for their survival.
There are some updates to the original story. The group of five head to the cabin to help Mia (Jane Levy) kick her drug habit far from any bad influence. There is no twisted metal bridge impeding their escape (an overflowing river suffices). And there is a dog along for good measures (I guess The Hangover II’s monkey was busy).
We accepted all the modifications from the original without complaint and we genuinely liked the five characters to which the night will feast. And we appreciated Alvarez’s attempts at keeping some of the better memories of the original in tact (raping trees anyone?).
We did have some issues with actions of the five. In typical horror film fashion, they too routinely do things they shouldn’t or you would hope you wouldn’t under the same circumstances. And the all-too-familiar ‘look I’m normal again, please love me’ followed by a ‘Grrrr, just kidding, I’m a demon’ was weak and anyone who has a girlfriend on her period would know not to fall for it.
But forget all the above. What is important is the gore. This is a horror film after all. And Alvarez and his team do not disappoint. A lot has been made of the practical effects in Evil Dead. Alvarez tried hard to keep the CGI to a minimum (it would be hard to have raping trees without any). And for the effort, he gets an ‘A’. There are some great moments of gruesome gore in Evil Dead. The five characters are good at mutilating theirs and their companion’s bodies and there is no shortage of ‘ewww gross’ moments. In fact, I can make argument that there are too many ‘ewww gross’ moments and you become numb to the gore without getting any shock value as the film parades towards its concluding chapters. I will leave any further description of the mutilation scenes for a discussion after everyone has seen the movie as to not ruin scenes or set expectations.
As the movie came to a close (and please stay through the end credits, you will thank me later), I was able to take a breath and reflect on the screening and ultimately, I really enjoyed myself through this reboot – which, I might add is a rarity amongst the general horror crap that gets shoveled into theatres on a consistent basis. I liked the humor (which isn’t as goofy as Evil Dead II, but works quite effectively), I liked the gore and effects and there were enough winks to the original film to keep me smiling yet enough freshness to keep things current.
The new reboot is not going to find its way into your Top 10 Horror Films of All-Time list. But considering the amount of remakes within the genre – Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, plenty of Texas Chainsaw Massacres – this one is likely to be the most satisfying. Especially to horror fans that are willing to let go of the past and just enjoy a violent, bloody good time.