John’s Horror Corner: Evil Dead (2013), one of the best and cleverly remade remakes of the last 10 years!
MY CALL: Practical effects, intensity and creatively re-architected scenes make this one of the best remakes of the last 10 years. IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH: Like a lot of gore? Here’s a stylistic mix for you. The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Final Destination 5 (2011), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and of course Evil Dead 2 (1987) and The Evil Dead (1981).
So, first off, Evil Dead 2 was really just a reimagining-remake of Evil Dead. So, too, is this movie. How is this movie different and why should you care about it? Well, it takes all of the elements, scenes, desperate tone and sets of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 and then distorts them just enough that even though we recognize each of them, we never really know when or how they’re coming.
Bruce Campbell as Ash in Evil Dead 2
The Evil Dead playbook includes elements like reading from the wrong damned book, running through wall crawlspaces, erratic POV chases in the woods, tree rape (for lack of a better word), entrapment in the woods, untrustworthy mirror images, laughing deer heads, slamming doors, chainsaws, severing of “infected” hands, the famous bite on the hand from an infected significant other, burying your significant other, the rise from the dead of your significant other, the possessed pretending to be human to appear vulnerable, singing in the cellar…oh, and about 110 gallons of liquid gore! Might I add, it’s all real gore, not some CGI spray coming from CGI demons.
When you find a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire, maybe you should leave it alone.
But if you must open it and take a peek and you see this, maybe think about how much you like your soul and take a step back.
And when the book says “don’t say it” then DON’T F@(#ING SAY IT!!!!
Otherwise you get this…
…and a whole lotta’ that!
So I told you it had all the same elements AND I just listed them. So did I ruin anything for you? Believe it or not, NO. While all of these elements are present, they have been chopped up, modified, meshed with other elements, spread across the entire cast or lumped into one. For example, there is no character that fills the role of Ash. Not really. But you’ll see “Ash” moments played out by different characters as well as “Ash” lines and other Ash-isms. What’s great about this is that you don’t know who, if anyone, is going to survive this movie. What a nice touch. It all feels so familiar to Evil Dead fans yet, despite this familiarity, you never know what’s in store except for a few iconic scenes.
The lighting, set design and cinematography were perfect. The mood went from “something doesn’t feel quite right” to straight up chilling and surreal. Obscure camera angles brilliantly contributed by making tense moments much less comfortable even for unshakable horror fans.
Likewise, the characters were great. I had doubts at first. When we meet them it feels like any well-produced horror movie. David (Shiloh Fernandez; Red Riding Hood, Deadgirl), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci; Carriers), Olivia (Jessica Lucas; Cloverfield, The Covenant) and David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) all go out to a cabin in the woods to help David’s sister Mia (Suburgatory‘s Jane Levy showing us that more than just a sweetie) kick her drug addiction which has nearly killed her. Natalie seems naïve, David has never been there for his family before, Olivia is a take charge nurse helming this mission and Eric is pleasantly reminiscent of what they’re remaking as a 70s-80s curious yet skiddish kind of guy who “thinks” he knows what he’s in for. Mia is likable, but you can see she has the will and flightiness to be problematic even without evil demons’ involvement.
As this intervention-rehab sets sail, one of them reads a few words from a skin-bound tome in the carrion-littered basement (a bit of a red flag already, I think) and some odd things start happening. But no matter how odd, out of character, escalating to psychotic and murderous the events, to some they fall under the veil of Mia having a breakdown. The actors all do a fine job.
Jane Levy did a great job. She also plays the smiley teen in Suburgatory.
The big question on everyone’s mind seems to be “was this remake worthy of Evil Dead [and Evil Dead 2]?” I think that whether or not people like this movie, the answer will be a mixed bag. My personal opinion is YES IT IS. Granted, there is none of the slapstick comedy of Evil Dead 2 or uber-over-the-top maniacal demon taunts of Evil Dead. The only laughs you’ll get are familiar lines that were funny in the originals thoughtfully woven throughout the dialogue in such understated ways that unless you’re a diehard fan you’ll probably miss them altogether. However, we get every bit of the gastrointestinal gross-out gore and then some!!! On top of that we get some truly brutal and sadistic scenes that will make you cover your mouth, cover your eyes, hold your breath or spit swears of disbelief at the screen.
It’s hard to believe that Sam Raimi was only a producer and that this was Fede Alvarez’ first feature length picture. I’m hoping they work together again soon!
So please, give this a chance. Don’t skip it because the last ten horror remakes, reboots or re-imaginings disappointed you. This is clearly a remake, but the scenes you’ll see never feel like you’ve seen them before.