I’m just going to get this out of the way first: I’m not really a fan of the original Evil Dead (I know, blasphemy!). Evil Dead 2 is good fun, and Army of Darkness has the hilarity, but I always felt like Sam Raimi was actually trying to make a horror movie the first time around, rather than a parody, and that the franchise simply spiraled in that direction when people found the first one absurd (which it is). This is just my opinion.
So, fast-forward thirty-two years to the new remake. Eschewing the low-budget effects of the original, the remake looks like the high-quality 2013 movie that it is, complete with excruciatingly realistic effects and enough gore to suppress your appetite for a week. And though it relies primarily on shock value, the shocks are good—some scenes had even this horror veteran cringing in disgust. But does it hold up to the original, or, for that matter, to today’s standards?
Yes and no.
Despite some seriously over-the-top moments (raining blood?) and some obvious nods to the original (Lost hand? Check. Chainsaw? You better believe it), the 2013 remake was surprisingly humorless. More of a straight-up horror in the splatterpunk vein, the movie delivers every gruesome moment with sincerity and adrenaline. The type of horror that this movie inhabits is not one of creeping, insidious possibilities or subtle, haunting moments: it’s the kind that makes your skin crawl because of how horrifyingly gross and sometimes sadistic it can be. In this way, it is scary—though not, perhaps, the type of “scary” that usually draws me in. Still, that scene with the nail gun was pretty gross-tastic.
On the whole, it’s a good movie. It’s entertaining, will make you jump, and has some truly visceral imagery. It retains many plot elements from the original, right down to the cellar entrance, and it attempts to give its standard young adult characters some personality before it slices them to bits. We even have some semblance of a plotline outside of the simple horror device, as we arrive at the cabin for an intervention for a girl who has OD’d on drugs too many times. Her brother, who was never there for her, tries to resume a place in her life, while her friends try to get her clean. Drugs and horror go well together: there’s that terrible unknown in terms of supernatural events. Is it real, or is it just a drug-induced hallucination? They don’t play on this too much, though, because everyone already knows what’s going on. We’ve seen the original.
The main problem with this movie is that, once it was over, I was left thinking… so what? What was the point to any of that? I was entertained, but was left shrugging and immediately moving on to something else. Obviously slasher movies do not exist to make you think, but I have a hard time resolving the fact that this movie came out after The Cabin in the Woods.
For me, The Cabin in the Woods was a game-changer in the horror/slasher genre—more specifically in the young-adults-go-to-a-creepy-cabin-in-the-woods-and-are-picked-off-by-the-undead. This is literally the exact premise of The Evil Dead, right down to the moment when you scream at the characters not to read the freaking Latin. This kind of movie coming out in 1981 makes sense. The ‘70s and ‘80s were, after all, the height of slasher horror. But in 2013, when we’ve had a meta parody that turns this particular plot on its head, and does so in a thought-provoking and hilarious manner? After that, I sort of wonder if it’s even possible to do a simple teens-in-the-woods movie anymore. It’s done, it’s over, it’s dead. Move on. I’m not sure there’s a place for it here in this rapidly changing 21st century where we are constantly questioning old tropes and reinventing genres.
Is The Evil Dead remake a bad movie? No, I’ve seen far, far worse. Is it an entertaining, gory romp? Of course. Is it worth a watch for horror fans and, especially, Evil Dead aficionados? Duh. But, at the end of the day, does it offer anything new to the horror genre? No. But I’ll probably see the sequel anyway.
(On a side note, I’m curious about them remaking Evil Dead 2—which was itself a remake, of sorts, of the original. So will this be a remake of a remake of a remake?)
Unless you have a weak stomach, you probably won’t regret watching it. But you also probably won’t see a point in ever watching it again.
Plot: 4 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Acting: 5 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Visuals: 9 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Music: 8 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Script: 6 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Scare Factor: 9 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages
Overall: 6.5 out of 10 bloody Necronomicon pages