The Evil Dead (1981), was a slapstick, horror phenomenon that launched the careers of writer-director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and cult-movie icon Bruce Campbell.
In the film, five college friends spend spring break in an isolated cabin in the woods. They come across a creepy book and tape recordings that play evil incantations. The gang unknowingly releases a demonic kill fest coated with campy humor and cut-rate effects, producing one of the best cult-classics of the 80s.
The budget was tight, the plot was simple, and the acting was amateurish at best. But despite low-end production, a young 22-year-old Raimi delivered a gore-fuelled, gonzo-inspired flick that led to an army of passionate fans and the sequels Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992).
The film’s new reboot was released Friday, April 5. Die-hard horror nerds flocked to the theater, but those expecting a carbon-copy remake should’ve done their homework and watched the trailer first.
Uruguayan filmmaker, Fede Alvarez, directed the modern take with the support of Raimi, Tapert and Campbell as producers. Rami gave Alavarez freedom to update the script, leading to new plot twists in Evil Dead.
“I made the decision not to just recreate the original movie – I wanted to develop a new story for an entirely new audience,” Alvarez told NBC Latino’s Nina Terrero.
The new script centers around Mia (Jane Levy), a junkie trying to kick a heroin habit with the help of her brother (Shiloh Fernandez) and three friends. As Mia begins her detox, a foul smell leads the group to uncover a blood-stained basement full of dead cats and a leather-bound book secured by barbed wire.
Any sane person would’ve fled the scene the moment cat carcasses came into the mix. But Alvarez sets the stage for a bloody, gruesome flick where logic — much like the original — isn’t a priority.
Naturally, one of Mia’s friends (Lou Taylor Pucci) can’t contain his curiosity and reads ancient scripture from the book. Mia becomes possessed by a demonic spirit but her cries for help are brushed-off as excuses to leave the cabin and quit her intervention.
What follows is a nauseating sea of blood, severed limbs, needles, vomit and nail-gun fights. There’s tongue-splicing, vulgar language, and of course the infamous tree rape scene lifted from the original (yes, you read that right, tree rape).
Aside from the occasional funny performance from Levy and Pucci, the acting is mediocre. Alvarez develops a background story for Mia and her brother, but despite heading in a more serious route with this version of Evil Dead, the characters still lack development and serve as blank slates for the impending slaughter.
However, what is remarkable about this film is the use of old-school prosthetics to deliver over-the-top, modern-day carnage. Alvarez also pays homage to the original — which was celebrated for Raimi’s keen eye behind the lens — by using cutting-edge technology to make a film that’s visually enticing.
Yet all the guts and gore throughout Evil Dead don’t manage to deliver a truly frightening experience. While the original made up for horror with humour, the remake doesn’t inject enough comedic relief throughout the film, which makes funny moments seem forced at times and a bit out of place.
The movie isn’t the train-wreck some over-zealous fans of the original expected it to be, but it’s not exactly a success either.
It’s full of gore, but it’s not scary. It has funny one-liners, but it’s not campy. All in all it just lacks that extra oomph that makes people want to tell friends to ‘Watch this movie now!’ and is underwhelming considering the hype surrounding its release.
If you have the money and free time, watching Evil Dead will make for an okay weekend outing. But for those who reserve a trip to the theater for epic blockbusters too great too watch at home: ‘Wait for the rental!’