Hudson Valley Father: My Evil Dead – Part 4 or, Part 1, Again?
After my bitching, moaning and groaning at the announcement that they were remaking (or reimagining) my beloved Evil Dead, it was finally released on April 5, 2013. I saw it two weeks later after its initial release. It wasn’t because I was boycotting the film with hopes that my lack of attendance would cut into the film’s box-office receipts. Nor was it because the inner fan-boy in me refused to watch this predetermined abomination retelling of a classic movie. No, it was simply because a window to shell out my hard-earned money didn’t present itself until two weeks after its release. In other words, I waited for pay-day; simple as that.
There was no question that after the trailer to Evil Dead was leaked online a few months prior to its release that my whole perspective shifted and I was completely on board with the film. My anticipation grew and never was I so excited to see a remake of a film since 2004’s Dawn of the Dead (I was curious, sue me). Add to that, the creators of the original, Sam Raimi in particular, and Bruce Campbell were on board and boasted that it was going to be one hell of a movie – I was officially hooked.
The day finally arrived and, after arranging for a babysitter for the little one and explaining the possible grotesque and disturbing nature of this film to my wife, we were finally on line to purchase tickets for Evil Dead (2013). Normally, I would reserve watching specific titles in top notch movie theaters so I can salivate, engulfed in its surround sound as it reverberates throughout my insides – the feeling is almost orgasmic. But, in order to save a few bucks and the droves of tweens, I would often catch a matinee when said tweens are in the confines of a place called school.
Much to my delight (demise to my wife), we were the only ones in the movie theater. I was giddy, and memories of my previous experiences watching Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness danced in my cerebrum as I sat and answered the trivia questions that sprang up on the screen. I greedily munched on my popcorn as we patiently awaited the start of the film. Then, the house lights dimmed, and Evil Dead commenced.
I have to admit that I got a little worried after watching the opening sequence of the film as it was eerily reminiscent of another of Raimi’s film, Drag Me to Hell. Not that Drag Me to Hell was a bad flick, on the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. But, it’s a different type of film than Evil Dead, unless we’re talking about Evil Dead 2. Still, the movie’s opening was a bit grandiose for my liking, and I would even say unnecessary, however, forgivable. I would say that this scene was A.) Raimi’s idea or B.) director Fede Alvarez‘s nod to the film’s original director which, as we all know, was Raimi.
Despite the similarities to the original Evil Dead, Alvarez truly made this film his own while maintaining the integrity of the original which is in stark contrast to what Rob Zombie did to Halloween (I can hear the moans now). Keeping to the central premise, Alvarez updated some of the storyline having a group of kids go to the keynote cabin in the woods for the purpose of helping a fellow friend rid of a nasty drug habit, an intervention so to speak. The update is just one of many, minor changes that didn’t seem to bother me much. The famed Necronomicon Ex-Mortis also saw a makeover no longer boasting a face on its cover. What did bother me slightly was that a more defined explanation of the “forces believed to inhabit the jungles and woods of man’s domain” – see what I did there? In my opinion, sometimes it’s better to leave things unsaid and keep that air of fear from the unknown intact.
As far as the characters are concerned, Jane Levy (Mia) has taken the reigns over as what has been deemed “the new Ash.” And, in classic Ash fashion, she does go through hell. Unlike the original film where the focus was on Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Linda (Betsy Baker), the 2013 version focused heavily on the relationship between brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and sister Mia (Jane Levy), formerly known as Ash and his sister Cheryl to fans of the original. And like the original film, this remake barely succeeds in providing that emotional impact between these relationships that would bring tears to the audience. This is not to say that it is a fault, I mean, who is worried about a brother and sister relationship on the rocks when the forces of evil are at play? So, to put it lightly, there is a lack of an emotional connection with the characters albeit taking a personal liking to some, especially Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), whose character can be deemed foolish/naive/stupid for being responsible for saying four little words that raise hell, literally. It’s a shame that a recorder featuring the voice of Bob Dorian for the summoning was not used – that would have been a real hoot. This is also not to say that there were not a few nods to the original film as there were a few of those so keep both your eyes and ears on alert.
I won’t sit here and say that this new Evil Dead is the greatest thing since slice bread (cliche?) but I will say that I was quite impressed with this remake and would not hesitate recommending it. It was also a delight to see a lack of overused/unnecessary CGI and the prominent use of good-old fashioned practical effects. And, if you haven’t already heard, there is an abundance of blood, guts and some glory in this one so make sure you have those vomit bags handy if you have a weak stomach. Sure, some may argue that the gore was a bit much and I’m more than confident that it is cringe-worthy for the faint of heart, but it’s sure to put a smile on any gore-hound.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this updated version of Evil Dead and would have to say that this film certainly put a stamp in the horror genre.
So, was this “the most terrifying film you will ever experience”? Probably not, but I would say it comes pretty damn close. Also, for those interested in a “bonus” clip, be sure to stick around after the credits.