Ok, here we are again. All-too familiar territory: Classic horror movie remake land. Whenever one of these remakes comes out, we ask ourselves. “Is this really necessary?” “Are they doing this because they have something new to offer the ravenous horror audience, or are they just trying to cash in on a popular franchise?” To say that Evil Dead fans disagree on the need for Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead remake would be like saying the Nazis had a disagreement with the Jews. Nobody seems to be in the middle here.
In one camp, you have people who are excited to see the update and see how Alvarez stacks up to Raimi. Others feel that to remake one of the all-time greatest horror flicks is somehow a personal affront to them. They wander up from their mothers’ basements and squint through the bright sunlight in search of soapboxes on which to declare that the remake is an abomination that somehow takes away from the accomplishments of Raimi’s original. They take to the streets with torches and pitchforks and march towards the studio as if it were the lab of Dr. Frankenstein.
Those people can kindly go fuck themselves with Ash’s Boomstick. I understand being a purist and not wanting to disturb the canon or whatever, but in this case, the remake actually accomplishes something new. Now hear me out on this, and keep in mind that the original Evil Dead is my favorite horror movie of all time, but it is sloppy at times in that it does not always know what it wants to be. (That is part of what we love about it but it’s the truth we need to face.) We know that it is intended to be part comedy and part horror, but how much of each? I still have the impression that Raimi never fully figured that out until ED2. Anyway, Alvarez’s remake knows exactly what it is from the very beginning. And so does the audience. This one is straight up, unapologetic horror. You could make the argument that it has about 5% comedy in that the gore and violence are so over the top that it gets absurd towards the end. It’s all part of the homage. Kind of tongue-in-cheek.
As for the plot, the new one is updated with some modern details so it feels fresh, while remaining true to the core story from the original. Five friends are visiting an old family cabin in the woods to help one of them kick her drug addiction. They find a book in the basement with some stern warnings (which are ignored, of course) and incantations. When they read the incantations in the book, they awaken a demonic spirit that possesses each of the friends and causes them to wreak havoc on themselves and each other. It’s a magic carpet ride of self-mutilation, blood, and dismemberment. By the end, there is literally blood raining down from the sky and there’s the obligatory chainsaw battle between our reluctant hero and a large demon monster.
Besides the focus on horror over slapstick comedy, one of the best arguments for this remake was just the advancement in special effects since 1980. Raimi’s Evil Dead was gory as hell and downright disgusting, but the whole movie was made for less than half a million bucks. The remake cost a whopping $17 mil. I’d wager that at least 10 million was spent on blood and guts effects. They really went all out. The sound was amazing too. You can literally hear flesh burning and tearing. The demon voices remind us of the original, while still being modern and scary. The original cut of the film received an NC-17 rating, and they had to cut it down a bit to get the R rating and get this puppy into theaters. I’m looking forward to seeing the full directors cut DVD in a few months. (Though don’t worry, kids, this one is still plenty gory.)
I realize I’ve waited until the end to make a final call. In short, I’ll say that this film was a fucking homerun- a bloody, disgusting homerun that accomplished exactly what it set out to do. Alvarez rebooted a classic and focused on horror rather than humor. He kept elements of what we loved about the original while creating a fresh, gory masterpiece that felt like its own movie. I loved it. The only thing that would have made it more “groovy” would have been a Bruce Campbell cameo.
- Is it scary? 8- They might be a little overzealous with the tagline: “The most terrifying film you will ever experience , but it was pretty goddamn scary. Everything was dark, creepy, foggy, and gross. It made you jump at the right times and had enough visual stuff to give you nightmares until the next remake comes out.
- Originality: 6– It is a remake, so the score can’t be that high, but they did a good job keeping it new and modern while keeping the essence of the original.
- Blood: 10- If this scale went higher, I’d give it a higher rating. The whole movie is a revolting, bloody mess. It’s beautiful
- Believability: 6- They did a pretty good job keeping things authentic. The acting was solid and it’s all so simple, there’s not a lot of places to mess that up.
- Setting/Cinematography: 8- Great camera angles and tracking shots. There were a lot of shots that were reminiscent of the original. Camera shooting through the woods, quick-cut montage of the hero MacGyvering some contraption to save the day (Ash’s chainsaw arm) etc.
Final Score: 38/50