Over the course of the last decade or so, horror films from the 1970s and 1980s have been remade at increasing frequency. Since this period is often considered one of the high points for the genre, there is constant frustration about Hollywood constantly mining established franchises, instead of creating original properties. The latest of this stream of remakes is a reimagining of Sam Raimi’s 1981 debut film The Evil Dead, which has gone on to become a major cult classic. However, unlike other remakes, Evil Dead was made with the full involvement of Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell, who are both on board as producers of the film. The film focuses on a group of friends – David (Shiloh Fernandez), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) – who travel to David’s family’s cabin to help his sister Mia (Jane Levy) give up her drug addiction. While there, they notice that the cabin was broken into and some sort of ritual performed in the cellar, where they find a strange book. While investigating the book, Eric reads some passages, which unleashes an evil force that targets Mia while she is walking in the woods. The force takes Mia over and slowly turns her into a demonic being, an affliction that spreads one by one to the other friends in the cabin.
I actually only watched Sam Raimi’s original film for the first time a few days ago, so it is easier for me to compare that film to the remake. Probably the biggest change is that this new film trades in Raimi’s campy tone for a more gritty and realistic film. While the over-the-top gore of the original can be considered cartoony and fun, there are some scenes of violence in this film that can be a bit disturbing for some to watch. That said, it’s hard to take stories like this totally seriously, especially when it literally starts raining blood, and I was quite enjoying the bloody action by the end. However, the film is not perfect. Instead of the simple “five friends go to a cabin, bad stuff happens” plot of the original, they created a new elaborate intervention storyline as the reason for why the friends are at the cabin. While this addiction plot does provide some interesting metaphors to the story, it also seems to be there to give the characters a reason to deny the supernatural happenings for as long as possible. Its become such a cliché in modern horror films for characters to say “there must be a rational explanation for this.” If it wasn’t for the increased focus on “deadite” action in the second half of the film, the first half would have really hurt my overall opinion of the film. Since there is no way to copy such an iconic character as Ash from the original film, this remake tries to go into a new direction and ends up being quite different from the original film by the end. I do have to say that I found this new plot direction to be quite interesting and it put an intriguing twist on the whole Evil Dead mythology. I also have to say that I found the film’s climax to be the best part of the film, probably because it fully embraces the over-the-top nature of Evil Dead. In conclusion, while there is no way that Evil Dead can top the original film, I still thought that was fun in its own right. While I could have done without the efforts to modernize the story, I still found myself enjoying myself by the end. That said, if you gave me the choice between the two versions, I would choose Sam Raimi’s original in an instant. 8 | LIKED IT