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Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, billed as the “Ultimate Experience in Grueling Horror” is one of the most beloved and renowned horror films of all time. The tale of five college students who must fight off their own friends as they each become possessed by a malicious force won audiences over and has achieved worldwide fame. The film even stands out with a 98% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Evil Dead was so good that it really, really, did not need a remake. However, Raimi, and the star of the originals, Bruce Campbell, under pressure from the fans for a new sequel, decided instead to produce a remake of the first film.
The film follows the same basic narrative of the original. Five twenty somethings enter a cabin in the woods and unwittingly awaken an ancient evil that begins to torment and murder them one by one.
The last man standing then has to swallow all notions of fear, and defeat the demons. There are a few changes to the plot though that work well enough within the story. The largest change comes from the character Mia. Where the original group was trying to cut loose on their spring break, this group has gathered to try and help Mia overcome her severe addiction to drugs. Her friends and brother basically lock her in the cabin to try and keep her from running back to civilization to find her fix.
This added a good core of motivations for the group early on, something noticeably absent from the original. This plot point also helps ramp up the tension early on when Mia begins seeing ghastly apparitions that the rest of the group dismiss as fallout from her withdrawal. That said, the film does focus on backstory a little too much early on. The film attempts to try and make you feel for the others in the group when all you wind up caring about is Mia.
When it comes to brutal, horrific violence, Evil Dead truly delivers. The special effects are astounding. The director, Fede Alvarez (who was handpicked by Raimi and Campbell), has publicly expressed his dislike for CG, and because of this, had all the film’s special effects done the old way. This results in a horror film that feels more organic. Each stabbing is brutally real, and each mauling is grittier. This is the film’s strongest suit, as it should be. Fans remember the original for it’s intense blood spattered insanity, and this remake lives up to that high standard of gore.
The film falls short in a few minor areas. First, many scenes were somewhat spoiled by how predictable they were. Yes, many similar events from the entire trilogy make an appearance, but those aren’t the scenes I’m talking about. In many moments the camera moves slightly past a character for a horrifying reveal, and in many cases within the film this works. However, sometimes all the tension in a scene was spoiled. You’d be on the edge of your seat, not knowing what to expect next, when the camera slides a few inches right and before the reveal is made you already had a good idea of what to expect.
Overall, this was a small concern, as the rest of the movie is an intense ride. Another time the film lost me is just before the big finale. One character in particular seems to make every bad horror movie cliche move ever within the span of a few minutes, putting a huge speed bump in front of the movie’s otherwise swift pacing. However, on a positive note, the ending stands out and is a spectacularly bloody affair. It is a fine climax to the mayhem that preceded it, and will go down in Evil Dead history as something truly special with it’s incredible imagery. *One thing I did miss was a scene after the credits. Be sure to stick around and check that out…
Evil Dead certainly is not as original as the first film, but it is probably one of the most fun and intense movie going experiences of the year so far. With incredible special effects, a rousing climax, and loving nods to Raimi’s unforgettable trilogy, Evil Dead will please fans of the series, fans of the genre, and audiences in general.