I fully admit that when I first heard there was a Evil Dead remake in the works I felt the exact same way most old school Horror fans did: Oh no! not another remake! Then word started to get out that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were on board as producers and that the film was not going to rely on CGI but use practical effects instead. So I slowly started to come around, and think maybe this is worth checking out. By the time the trailers were released, I was sold. In fact, Evil Dead became my most anticipated film of the year.
The original Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are genuine cult classics with a huge following of devoted fans. Think about it...How many lines can you recite from those movies? I bet you can even recognize the most obscure screenshots from them too. So why mess with a classic that is so universally loved by the fans? Why not come up with a new concept instead? Why keep remaking movies that we all know and love inside and out? We fans seem to enjoy picking apart and analysing the remakes when they come out and naturally comparing them to the originals. But, the thing is...the remakes will never live up to their originals. The original movies are a product of the times they were made in. They are a snap shot of an earlier time that we look back on with nostalgia. The other inherit problem with remakes is that most of the time the actors in them have gone on to become cult heroes. This is especially true with the Evil Dead movies. Let's face it Bruce Campbell is practically a God in the Horror universe. So who is going to fill those rather large shoes? Even with all of that running through my head, I thoroughly enjoyed the remake. I decided to go into the theatre with an open mind and leave all my prejudices behind me.
Evil Dead starts out with a group of twenty-somethings going to a family cabin in the woods. Unlike the original movie, they are not there for rest and relaxation. Instead, they are there to help a friend kick her Heroin addiction. She ceremoniously declares that she is starting a new life and dumps out all of her stash. However, her friends are hesitant to believe her because they have been through all of this before and failed. This was a rather clever addition to the storyline because when she starts to see Demons, naturally no one believes her and blames her behaviour on the withdrawal process instead. It also means that they have committed to staying for the long haul or until she breaks her habit. It doesn't take long for the group to discover the Necronomicon in the creepy basement, and against their better judgement the nerdy guy opens the book and begins to read the incantations. By the time he realizes his mistake, it is too late to get out.
There are several reasons this remake is well done. First, it is gory as hell! Even more so than the original was and the effects are very well done. It is by far the goriest movie I have seen in wide release at my local theatre. Second, there is no humour to lighten the mood. It is a straight up old-fashioned Horror movie. A roller coaster ride of blood and guts. But don't get me wrong, there are very few outright scary scenes. Third, there are several Easter Eggs from the original movies sprinkled throughout. If you are an Evil Dead fan, you will enjoy picking them out when you see them. Several scenes and props are reused from the originals, but they are all slightly tweaked or changed a bit. Like the writers did a shuffle between all of the characters, resulting in a very interesting mix. Things just don't quite line up the same way as before. However many of Raime's original ideas are there... the Chainsaw, the shotgun, the tree rape scene, and even the Oldsmobile.
The one part I found a bit strange was that I kept thinking of Cabin in the Woods during several opening scenes. Yes, I realize that CITW was spoofing Evil Dead, but the characters were eerily similar. However, the dialogue was lacking in comparison to CITW.
As a whole, I thought Evil Dead was an extremely clever remake. It paid homage to the original movie without copying it exactly. Even the gore was over the top and cringe worthy yet still not exploitative like some of the more recent torture porn movies. The remake updates the story while remaining true to the Indie, low-budget feeling of the original. All of this makes it a must see for the big screen in my opinion. So get to the theatre because the Deadites are calling for you...