“EVIL DEAD” The remake
I am not a fan of remakes.
That’s not to say that I condemn them out of hand or refuse to watch a remake, only that I have not seen too many that have brought a major justification to the table for their existence. Often they’re only pale imitations of the original or they just aren’t very good to begin with. In a few instances, the movie just blatantly spits in the face of the original and delivers a new ‘vision’ that does nothing that the film maker believes it does. On a rare occasion there are some very good remakes, however… especially when the source material begins with something that maybe didn’t do so well or where something is blatantly a product of its own time and could be retold with a fresh outlook based on a new generation.
And then, even rarer, the remake just stands on its’ own merits. Such is the case with “Evil Dead”, a remake of the Sam Raimi classic which starred Bruce Campbell and got a good number of people started in the business. But this isn’t a continuation of the story begun so many years ago, this isn’t a remake that includes the two sequels, this is a straight up “5 kids go to the woods and get possessed” remake of ONLY the original film. It’s a formula brought to snarky parody in recent films like “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and “Cabin in the Woods”, the latter of which is referenced by a local reviewer who wonders why this movie was even made since the formula had so richly been played out since the films initial release. The same reviewer wonders why Sam Raimi would greenlight the production, act as an executive producer along with the original films’ other makers, and generally laments the lack of “soul” and execution from this films creators. A reader might actually wonder if the reviewer actually watched the original film, or if they only vaguely recollect the basics given the cult status of the films popularity. I rarely tend to agree with the reviewer, who seems to fashion herself some sort of a "fangirl" who quickly bashes any genre film that doesn't immediately capitulate to her feminist views and somehow act as an apology to all the male chauvinist sexism spread throughout the years. Yeah, I'd say I'm not a fan but I honestly look forward to her reviews in the newspaper because they differ so vastly from my own.
“Evil Dead” may not be a parody, but it’s still one of the most hilariously gory films to ever reach my local multiplex. The screen is painted red with blood and there are visceral scenes of unbelievable cruelty as the five characters are forced to cope with the awful horror they accidentally unleash. The flimsy excuse for these five to be so secluded is that our lead character, Mia, is undergoing a cold-turkey rehab from some unnamed substance abuse problem. After finding and reading passages from the book, the rest of the group continuously excuse the erratic, violent, and self-abusive behavior from Mia to be a result of the hardcore detox. This confusion is played to both serious and comedic effect as Mia’s actions become much increasingly intense and the ‘reader’ of the book (Eric) starts to fit the puzzle together and figures that Mia has become possessed.There's an especially hilarious moment when Eric is trying to tell Mia's brother, David, what he thinks is happening and David keeps questioning the theory.
Oh, the characters… the ones we’re supposed to care about are David and Mia, the estranged brother and sister. David is here to help his sister after having grown apart from her and his dying mother. There's a bit of a history referenced here between the two characters as they opine over photographs that seem to have been taken some time in the past. Of course, the photo looks about a week old and everyone in it has the same hair style as they currently have in the film so... uhm... how much time have these two been apart? Don't worry, you won't get an answer. This is just flimsy back story exposition. Eric and Olivia are the childhood friends struggling to help Mia through her addiction, both of whom harbor feelings of resentment for David since he seems to have disappeared from all of their lives some amount of time ago. Natalie rounds out the group as David’s girlfriend, who is as blank a slate as they come when it came to character development. Seriously, she's introduced with only the slightest of waves and barely says anything through most of the rest of the movie. You sort of know she's just fodder going in, so that kind of adds to the comedy a little later in the film. Most of the problems between David and Mia are explained through scenes of stilted exposition dialogue that comes off as largely awkward, though Mia’s performance is pretty strong despite the writing. Her possession is well played to horrific effect, and when the poop hits the fan it TRULY hits the fan.
I know it sounds like I’m being a little cruel to the film, but this is what it is… another cabin in the woods movie. It’s a remake of a classic. It doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be entertaining, and entertaining is precisely what it is. The formula isn’t ‘dead’ just because Joss Whedon wrote a film that offered a parody on the tropes delivered, it’s still a fun concept and good way to make a scary movie. The actors playing Eric and Mia tend to stand out while the others just sort of blend into the background… but it’s not a situation where the movie is "bad but at least it has gore", it’s a fun little spook ride at the amusement park with lots of influences from various horror movies. It plays with clichés, dances with the hardcore fanbase, and generally has some good stuff to offer.
4 out of 5.