Over the past ten years there have been a rash of horrible re-makes targeting iconic horror films from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Friday the 13th, Piranha and Prom Night were all horrible movies that tried and failed to capture the terror and fun of the originals. In my personal opinion the reason these and other re-makes didn’t work is because they tried to literally re-create the movie, scene for scene and word for word. I’ve already seen Prom Night; show me something new. This is how Evil Dead works: Fede Alvarez has essentially created a whole new movie. The core of the original story is still present, and he has skillfully placed slight winks and nods to the original throughout the film; but, overall, his Evil Dead is a separate movie from the Sam Raimi classic. I’m not saying it’s better, just different.
The movie begins in typical horror film fashion. Five young and attractive friends end up in an isolated cabin in the woods. First there is Mia, the junkie; David, the junkie’s unreliable brother; Natalie, David’s girlfriend; Eric, the schoolteacher; and Olivia, the ER nurse. Their mistake? They pick a cabin for a cold-turkey drug intervention that was once the location for a demon exorcism. Before you can say "Book of the Dead," angelic-looking Mia is taken over by a demon who plans to kill the rest of her cabin-mates. The dialogue and action in the first part of the film feels a bit clunky and forced. The relationships between everyone are explained very quickly with not a lot of detail. But that’s okay: if you’re planning to see this movie you are not big on character development. They give us enough to know why they are there and why they can’t leave.
First, let me praise the writers for nixing the idea that these kids are at this cabin just to party; the drug-addict angle puts a rather brilliant spin on a tested genre formula. This angle gives them all a reason to refuse to leave when the you–know-what does hit the fan, no matter how much Mia begs. The Mia character was the most flushed out of the five friends; I felt like the additional ladies were thrown in just as demon fodder.
Now let’s chat about my favorite aspect of this film. No CGI blood, just good, old fashioned, handmade special effects. In the age of Avatar where every movie feels likes it was made in front of a green screen, I thought it was a bold move and a serious nod to those that came before to rely on hand made make up effects in the film. I have to warn you, there is a lot of blood in this one; lots of blood and more than a few amputations. But it wasn’t gore just for gore’s sake, the way too many horror flicks use gore to cover up the fact that they have no story. The gore in Evil Dead feels right, it’s meant to be there, and it’s done tastefully. It works because the director doesn't treat it as exploitation, just as part of the nightmare ride he is taking us on.
When this remake was first announced a few years back, genre fans around the world groaned (including this one) and automatically cried foul. But I have to say that I am more than pleased with this new vision of a cult classic. It is my belief that in the end, Evil Dead is meant to do one thing: take horror back to gore filled fun of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.