I’ve been completely behind Fede Alvarez’s redux of Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD since the moment it was announced. I’m not one to cry “rape!” or get all up in arms over Hollywood remaking a beloved classic of any genre. It’s been happening for decades, it’s going to happen for decades to come, so deal with it. Heck, thanks to remakes studios have given the originals some love with deluxe DVD & Blu-ray editions (MY BLOODY VALENTINE, FRIDAY THE 13TH, etc), so in that regard we should be thankful. Sure it’s a cash grab, but if it gets me a shiny new transfer with bonus features, they can re-do anything they want as far as I’m concerned.
Also, it’s backed by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and ‘The Chin’ himself Bruce Campbell; what better way to resurrect a franchise than with the main creators of the original and subsequent sequels? For starters, you hire a more than capable youngblood, nix Ash, and unleash one of the goriest films to ever be released theatrically…and possibly ever. While it doesn’t have the DIY soul and midnight madness aesthetic of Raimi’s picture, EVIL DEAD is viscerally grotesque & evisceratingly unrelenting to the umpteenth degree.
The setup is simple and one you’re familiar with, but with a grounded and smart anchor: childhood friends Mia, David, Eric, Olivia, & Natalie meet up at a remote cabin in the woods, not for partying or sex, but to see that David’s sister Mia kicks her heroin addiction. After disposing the last of her stash, Mia’s bout of cold turkey is short lived and the withdrawals begin, leading to a horrific encounter with a demon Eric unknowingly unleashed after discovering a flesh bound book and reading it’s contents aloud. Mia returns possessed and pleads to be taken home, but the group is convinced this is another ploy to escape the detox.
Enter a night of eviscerating carnage.
Rest easy and lower your pitchforks, EVIL DEAD safely belongs in the “best remakes” camp. It’s a roller coaster ride of demonic torture and maniacal glee that should please even the most reluctant fans. It’s not the most terrifying film you’ll ever experience as advertised, but what it lacks in scares makes up for it in the amount of bloodshed present throughout. To be bluntly hyperbolic, it’s the bloodiest fucking film I’ve ever bared witnessed to. Gore isn’t everything, but damn if I wasn’t grinning from ear to ear as the red stuff poured, oozed, geysered, and rained all over. The kicker? It’s all done the good old fashioned way; practically.
It’s also littered with tons of homages, although unnecessary (the goal is to merge Raimi’s with Alvarez’s so maybe it’s not just a wink-wink), it’ll make the initiated smirk. The deadites this time around are nastier than ever, although a bit too zombie-ish without any defining characteristics except for total evisceration of anything with a soul. Jane Levy is a major exception as Mia, who completely transforms into a puke spewing, foul mouthed french kisser once possessed. Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric takes the brunt of all the beatings in true Raimi fashion, that will leave you cringing and laughing hysterically.
Remaking THE EVIL DEAD is a daunting task that rightfully gives off a feeling of trepidation, but I really believe Fede Alvarez has successfully made a film for the fans, as well as for a new generation. It fully embraces it’s over the top tone with an unflinchingly serious attitude that never lets up until the jaw dropping crescendo. EVIL DEAD is a crowd roaring film, best experienced in a packed theater with like minded gorehounds and queasy folks that either cover their eyes or scramble towards the exit door due to the onscreen mayhem. If that’s what you want, it’s exactly what you’ll get.