Last night my fiance and I went down town to see the remake of the cult classic movie Evil Dead. While I was in college the original Evil Dead trilogy was the proverbial Holy Grail of movies for myself and my friends. There were countless viewings or references to the movies throughout my years at college. It got to the point where I had practically most of the lines memorized. I was never a huge fan of Star Wars or Star Trek like the majority of geekdom, but to me Evil Dead was on par with it. I think it was due to the fact that it combined the campness of Bruce Campbell’s chewing the scenery and the odd ball creatures. Part of the appeal was the stop animation, it has a visceral appeal that CGI has never been able to compete with visually in my opinion. I’m glad that the remake relies more on physical effects then CGI.
I had heard the various rumors for years that they were remaking Evil Dead, everything from Bruce Campbell directing the remake and Rami directing a new Evil Dead movie with Campbell once again as the lead. Then there were the dreadful rumors and speculations that what’s his face Ashton from ‘That 70’s Show’ would reprise the roll of Ash. I paid them little mind, and when the remake came out I paid it little heed. I’m not prone to getting onto my soapbox and shaking my fist at ”corporate” Hollywood for violating my memories with shite remakes. Nor am I inclined to bellyache about Hollywood force feeding us remakes instead of original material. Its pointless really to whine about it, pretty much cerebral masturbation.
So, I didn’t pay much heed to it when it was released, hadn’t even bothered watching the trailer online. I had heard from a friend that it was more of reboot and that Rami/Campbell were involved in a producer/consultant aspect that did pique my curiosity a little bit. The fact is sometimes a writer/director will be credited as a ‘producer’ but all it means is they let their name be used in exchange for a pay check.
When I went into the theater last night I approached the remake with an open mind. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It kept my interest piqued and the plot did not drag. I enjoyed the subtle tribute they gave to the original, such as Mia wearing a Michigan State sweatshirt, similar to what was worn by a cast member in the original, the old car upon which Mia is sitting on early in the movie appears to be similar to what Ash drove in the original. There’s also some editing and excessive camera zooming that Rami is notorious for using in the original trilogy. A few other lines or scenes are in it that harken back to the original. There’s also a similarity in appearance between Bruce Campbell and Shiloh Ferandez, the actor playing Mia’s brother. I also noticed that he wears a very similar outfit as Ash. The excessive amount of blood spewing, chainsaws, and dismembered arms referenced the original Evil Dead 1 and 2 as well.
Aside from that I enjoyed the new parts that added to the movie, in particular the opening scenes. There were also some scenes that could easily become part of the horror iconography, especially the self mutilation scene in the bathroom and the tongue scene in the basement. I think that one of the more powerful scenes took place in bathroom involving the character Olivia, played Jessica Lucas. Her reflected image in the bathroom mirror is the type of horror that appeals to me, subtle and surreal. I’d more suspected someone to attack her from behind rather then the image to pop up, and the results that it would have on her. Another great image from the movie is the appearance of Eric toward the end of the movie. It makes for a fantastic creepy image of him in the hallway.
I also liked that the remake did not stick entirely to the original script, but deviated in terms of the climax. The movie doesn’t end in the typical Hollywood fashion which is a nice change of pace. The remake also had a traditional style to it in that there wasn’t the campy humor of the original which I thought was a good choice for it. I don’t know if anyone can compete with Campbell’s quirkiness or the awful-but-good performances of the original cast.
Overall the acting was decent, but at times some of the lines seemed forced or poorly done. It didn’t have the standout one liners that the original movie did. Even the supposed catch phrase by Mia seemed forced. Plus, it’s hard to get emotionally invested in a movie when I really don’t know anything about any of the characters. You know some back story on Mia and David but that’s about it. I know the movie is only an hour and a half, but I think an extra 15 minutes or so to build some back story/character development would’ve helped it a lot. I think that they had too many characters, I mean David’s girlfriend rarely appears in the scenes except for the end. During her big scene I almost forgot who she was, and her role had no really emotionally impact.
In terms of plot, it moves along well and they manage to create tension and suspense in the movie very well which is important in a movie like this one.
Although it wasn’t the greatest movie ever, or even in my top ten I enjoyed the 2013 version on Evil Dead. It was entertaining and a good mix of the old and new. In a world saturated with ”paranormal” movies shot by hand held cameras and tween vampire/werewolf romances the 2013 version of Evil Dead comes as a welcomed relief. Like a shot of whiskey after being limited to syrupy sweetness of sophomoric sensibilities.