Remakes always give us pause because not very many of them are good. The Horror genre is especially remake crazy, especially in the last few years. Some of them have been great, ( 1982’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly), some of them have been decent, (2009’s Friday the 13th remake and 2006’s The Hills Have Eyes) but most of them have been bad (Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake and the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street).
When it was announced that The Evil Dead was being remade I was cautiously optimistic. I love the original film and always have, but it is definitely dated and could be primed for an update. It was then announced that Sam Raimi, the creator and mastermind behind the original, was going to be producing the remake. The red band trailer then came out last year and I was really impressed with it and the buzz coming out of screenings of the film at SXSW was extremely positive. So I had some expectations for this film. I wasn’t going into it thinking that it was going to be another bad remake. Did it live up to those expectations?
The answer is slightly. While I think Evil Dead lived up to my expectations of its level of gore and gross out scenes, it also remade a very distinct and original film into a typical 21st century horror movie with a ton of clichés. All of the characters are typical horror film victims. They are stupid and make every wrong choice that gets them killed off one by one. None of them possess the charm or charisma that Bruce Campbell did and so I didn’t really care or feel thrilled when their lives were in danger. That is always a major issue in any Horror film. The great ones make you care about the characters enough that it makes thrill
ing when they are fighting for their lives.
The only real reaction I had to Evil Dead was being grossed out during the gory scenes. That is a positive comment as it is delivering on what I expected after seeing footage. It seemed to me that for the most part they used practical effects which are always a nice surprise in today’s digital driven SFX world. I don’t want to spoil anything but there were several call backs to the original film with some really impressive visual effects. I am shocked that Evil Dead was even able to score an “R” rating and it makes most of the Saw films look like Sesame Street. I can’t think of a mainstream, wide release film that really pushed violence to this level before and for that it definitely deserves credit.
I did have a big problem with the tone of this film though. I was expecting a little more of the dark humor that was underlying in the original but it never showed up. This version of Evil Dead takes itself very serious. I know that this is probably better for mainstream audiences but for the diehard fans of the original, this will be a problem. I also thought the direction by Fede Alvarez was a little too polished. Evil Dead to me is supposed to be dark, dirty and gritty. I know that living in a digital age this is becoming harder and harder to do but I will still hold it against this remake. I will admit that, if it had been made with another title and wasn’t associated with the Evil Dead franchise I would have been extremely impressed with most of the direction. I am sure Fede Alvarez will be somebody you are going to hear from in the future.
To me though, Evil Dead is good enough to not be a disgrace to the original series, which isn’t high praise but I feel like it sums it up nicely. I did have a lot of fun with it but I am not sure I will remember anything about it other than the insane amount of gore in it. It probably plays a lot better if you have no admiration for the original series and aren’t constantly comparing the remake to it. It just didn’t do enough to differentiate itself or justify its existence. Now let’s finally get that Evil Dead 4 that Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi have been promising us for years.