Evil Dead (2013)
I'm sure a lot of you were just as curious as I was about this film and how it differs from the much loved original. I was lucky enough to check out a screening earlier last week and below I've posted my thoughts. I was careful not to reveal too much, so the review is free of any major spoilers.
The story takes the formula of the Evil Dead and runs with it. There's no Ash, no Cheryl, this time a whole new cast also means a new group of 20 somethings. This time rather than an idyllic cabin vacation the group is returning to a family owned home to help a long time friend beat her drug addiction cold turkey. The friend in question is Mia who is joined (reluctantly) by her brother David and three childhood friends. There is some character development along the way which is always nice in a horror movie, it's made clear that there are some grudges held between David and the group as he abandoned Mia years prior when he moved away. Mia was left to take care of their ill mother and the bond hasn't been the same since.
Soon it's revealed that poor Mia's addiction has became so bad that the only chance she has is to be away from civilization and far away from any dealers. The friends make a pact to keep her there no matter what she might say or do. Mia's withdrawals kick in and that's what gets the ball rolling. Eventually the group will find the cellar which leads to the discovery of everyone's favorite skin bound book.
This is where the remake branches off and becomes it's own entity. This time around there is no recorder (much to my disappointment) and one of the more clever characters in the group manages to translate the pages himself. As he reads the passages aloud shit begins to hit the fan. As the trailer suggests, Mia is the first to get it bad. In a failed attempt to escape the cabin she crashes the car and is completely vulnerable to the evils of the surrounding forest. If you've seen the original film then you know what the expect, if you haven't then you're in for a very disgusting surprise. The woods "infect" poor Mia and she slowly begins to transform.
The friends manage to wrangle her back to the cabin just in time to see the possession take full control, at this point I would say that this version of the Evil Dead's possessed few culls more from the Exorcist than the original. Mia is very reminiscent of Regan from the overall look to the foul mouth. She's quickly locked in the cellar but not before she manages to do some damage and spout off some very vulgar insults. In the original film the characters just need to be weakened (usually by injury) to be taken over by the book. This time around bodily fluid must in someway be exchanged. It's a very disgusting idea and it's shown in extremely graphic ways.
With Mia locked in the cellar the friends must turn to the pages of the book to figure out how to cleanse her of the demons and survive through the night.
When the credits began to roll the first word to pop into my head was excess. Excess isn't always bad, especially in this genre. However in this case, I felt it a negative. The Evil Dead has a lot going for it but at some point the amount of gore and bloodshed can become overkill. I love that they went practical with the sfx, but at some point the amount of it almost cheapens the overall experience. The original movie had a lot of the red stuff, it was certainly something that those films were known for. This one takes that idea and runs with it...Through a field of machetes...Then off a cliff...Then into traffic. You get the idea. It's as if a group of people sat in a room and wrote down various ways to hurt someone that would make an audience squirm. Then rather than picking a few ideas someone said "screw it" and decided to find a way to fit them all into the movie. When these techniques are used sparingly I find them a lot more effective, even in the audience it was evident. The first few violent scenes got gasps and "oh mys" by the sixth or seventh time it becomes repetitive and is no longer shocking.
That is my only real complaint about the film. I never in a hundred years thought I would complain about gore in a film, but I've never been a big fan of gore for the sake of gore, especially in such a straight forward and serious environment.
Now as I mentioned, that was my only complaint, however every fan/fanboy of the original is going to have a few nitpicks, so here it goes...I didn't care for how the demons were summoned in this one. The guy translating it himself just seemed to be reaching in my opinion. I really wish they just would have kept the 'old recorder' idea from the original, I always felt that was one of the coolest and creepiest aspects of that film. Some random guy managing to find hidden passages in an ancient demonic text just seems...Outlandish.
One thing I absolutely loved in this re-imaging was the audio. There are tons of throwbacks to the original, if you're listening carefully you'll hear "Join Us" a handful of times but it's very subtle. Not so subtle is the use of some of Cheryl's dialogue that's thrown in with Mia's in the initial possession scene. That was a very nice touch. Some of the audio effects used to coincide with the film's FX are just gruesome, plus the score, while light, is very nice. I'm glad they went that route, it gives it a timeless feel. Some modern horror films like to shove as much modern rock music as possible into a film, it's nice to see a change. Also for fans of the original, Professor Knowby's recording does make an appearance but as an Easter egg that's played during the end of the credits.
So I had a few issues with the film, but overall I enjoyed the movie. Nothing will ever take the place of the original, that's something some people need to remember. Yes it is a remake, but it certainly sets itself apart enough to feel like another story set in the world Raimi created. So try and enjoy yourself and support this movie. Apparently if it is successful enough it will lead to a sequel, which could also lead to an "Army of Darkness 2," but I'm not holding my breath.