Review: Evil Dead

An intensely visceral, bloody and not entirely predictable remake of the 1981 horror classic.

As part of a drug rehabilitation plan, David and his three friends take his sister Mia to an old family cabin secluded in the woods. But when they find the cabin to now be the site of witchcraft, and find a mysterious book in the basement, Mia and David’s troubled life is about to get a lot worse…

The Evil Dead does two things correctly: 1; it respects its source material, and 2; it doesn’t dumb itself down. Now the first is due mostly because of the original’s director Sam Raimi being part of the production crew, as well as the original’s star Bruce Campbell. The second is due to the film having characters who aren’t gaudy, whining sex-appeal teens who blunder about like headless chickens, they are actually interesting. Well, interesting compared to most horror victims.

The film’s set up is effective and helps give a sense of authenticity to an otherwise brainless act. These people are trying to help a friend by isolating her drug problem, but when things go wrong, they aren’t immediately aware of what is actually happening. Could it just be a drug relapse? This is way more effective than “Oh, we just want to stay in a creepy cabin cos… we wanna scare our girlfriends, har har”.

Of course, the film knows that what we are here to see is the demons, and the gore, and Evil Dead doesn’t persist with needless padding (it is only ninety minutes long) and escalates nicely with increasing amounts of blood drenched fury.
The effects are startlingly realised; there’s no CGI tomfoolery here. People are possessed, arms are hacked off with electric meat carvers, nailguns are liberally used, hands are bitten, blood is vomited, profanities are screamed. It isn’t for the faint of heart, what we have here is a remake of the 1980s “video nasty” genre! Horror fans rejoice.

It is certainly a spectacle, though either I am very desensitised to what film can do, or Evil Dead didn’t quite freak me as much as it was advertised it should have. After some deliberation, I assume it is because it is a remake, and while it doesn’t stick to the original characters at all (which is a blessing!) it is still the same premise and the same monsters. The same rules.

Horror is something mysterious and unknown, at least for me. Evil Dead has its jump scares at all the regular places (bathroom mirror, circling camera shots) all the cliches, which makes its greatest triumph only in its new paint job. For movies to truly terrify, they have to dig deep and dig into truly surreal and inhuman, and have the production value and intensity to pull it off.

Evil Dead is a worthy remake of the original however, fans of horror must go and see this, and new audiences will be terrified at the concept and freakish visuals like they were in the 1980s.

Additional Marshmallows: One thing I did notice were some subtle references to Raimi’s The Evil Dead 2, however unlike the original’s sequel, this remake has none of the rather bizarre, black humour which Raimi is quite notorious for now (There aren’t any manically laughing mounted moose heads for example!)

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