‘Evil Dead’ Movie Review – A Bloody Update
The Evil Dead is a classic. Everyone knows that. This year’s remake titled Evil Dead (which cleverly loses its “the”) will not be known as a classic. But, is it good enough? Yes. It’s a movie with a keener eye on plot and development but with a little less over-the-top ridiculousness. Most of all, it’s missing the humor that made the original a cult classic (that later became an entire franchise). Put another way, it’s different but still good enough to justify a remake.
If you want a quick refresher on the series, check out my cumulative review of the franchise.
Evil Dead immediately starts itself off differently than the 1981 original; There’s a prologue that introduces the audience to the Necronomicon (similar to the Book of the Dead).
Then we fast-forward to the main story, which again shows five friends visiting a secluded cabin in the woods. They aren’t there to get away or party, though. Instead, their mission is more of an intervention for Mia (Jane Levy) who is a hardcore coke addict. Her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), also gets some backstory as the transparent brother.
These characters are more dynamic than the originals – a feat that really wasn’t that hard to accomplish in the first place. By making their trip a cold turkey approach to drug rehab, they actually mitigated one of the huge problems I have with horror movies. It justified – to some extent – why the characters were acting so stupid. They just assumed Mia was going crazy because she was going through withdrawal.
The remaining three characters are David’s high school (I think?) friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and his girlfriend (Elizabeth Blackmore). They’re just pawns in the overall story, though.
Mia dons a Michigan State sweatshirt (a nice callback to the original) and the parallels crop up throughout the story. These nice touches didn’t dominate the movie or feel forced in the least. The aforementioned book, Mia’s necklace, and the infamous tree…er, violation scene were just a few more worth mentioning.
It’s also worth highlighting the differences because it definitely wasn’t a frame-by-frame remake. This approach would’ve been stupid, anyway, and the choices first time director Fede Alvarez made were all pretty good. I’ve already mentioned the focus on the book (something that isn’t as evident until Evil Dead 2), but his choice for a female lead was interesting. This is especially true since it gives a bulk of the character development to the demonic aspect.
One disappointment was the lack of comedy that made The Evil Dead such a memorable movie. It spawned its own genre, but Alvarez’s film is strictly horror. It’s a lot more serious and seems to try much harder to scare the living bajesus out of the audience. At least he succeeds in his mission. The gore is similar, but the methods and effects are updated to today’s standards likely making it even more terrifying. Be forewarned, though, the gore is extremely gnarly and isn’t for the faint of heart.
At a short and … sweet isn’t the right word, runtime (91 minutes), Fede Alvarez’s remake of Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead borrows a bulk of the story but still makes it a movie worthy of viewing on its own. This is a tremendous feat if you think about it. While his Evil Dead probably won’t stand out as a timeless classic, it’s scary enough to pump a theater full of adrenaline. For those tougher moviegoers, it’ll at least surprise you in the gore department (I seriously questioned the MPAA rating multiple times). Can you expect anything better?
Evil Dead opened in wide release this weekend. Check it out and leave your thoughts below.
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