ReelReviews #21: Evil Dead (2013)

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APRIL 30, 2014 SCREENING: EVIL DEAD (2013)

The Evil Dead (2013) is a remake of 1981 movie of the same name, and watching this film unfold, it quickly became apparent to me that the style and direction they used for the film would likely result in audiences either loving or hating this movie. Put me down the “loved it” camp, but I can certainly understand why others would hate it.

If you’re familiar with the “Evil Dead” because of how the franchise famously developed, and were drawn to it expecting to see a Bruce Campbell type figure blowing away bad guys while quipping cool one-liners, this movie isn’t for you, and you’re going to hate it because it has nothing to do with the “Evil Dead” you know and love. However, if you go into this movie disregarding the later films in the franchise and look at it solely as a remake of the original 1981 movie – long before the series became more comedic in nature and when the “Evil Dead” was just known as an over-the-top and particularly gory and messed up horror film – then this movie is for you.

Unfortunately for the remake, most people are more familiar with the later version of Evil Dead than the low budget original movie. I’m also in that camp, and was introduced to the Evil Dead through the third movie (1993’s Army of Darkness), and was shocked at how different the first film in the trilogy was when I finally got around to watching it. Evil Dead progresses from a humorless, straight-laced, messed up splatter horror film, to a crazy, creep, blood-filled horror-comedy sequel, to finally a pure lightweight comedy with tons of one liners and very little horror by the third film. The main character, Ash, starts off a young guy in a awkward situation having to fend for his life, and eventually seems to become the template for Duke Nukem by the the third movie. It’s not surprise later video games and other merchandise based on the franchise used the later entries for most of their material, even “Evil Dead: The Musical” did so, despite being set in the time line of the first movie.

In the case of the remake, it did a terrific job taking the tone and style of the movie its remaking, and having it work in a modern, updated setting. It may even be a sequel and a remake, as there are subtle hints that the teens in the movie are back at the same cabin where the events of the first film took place, and doomed to repeat history. It’s an adrenaline-filled, macabre, and nasty horror film with very little humor, but several winks to the audience that reference events and scenes from the first film, but cleverly provide a new twist on them. If you’ve seen the original Evil Dead and you remember a women being raped by a tree and a hand becoming possessed and being forced to be severed, you won’t be disappointed with how its handled here.

The other thing I didn’t like about 2013’s Evil Dead, was the last 15 minutes of the movie and the “twist ending”, which was easily the weakest part of the film and made no logical sense. The film seemed to be burnt out at that point, with the screenwriters and director being too clever for their own good and trying to put up something out of nowhere to make a character they previously killed off be the “lone survivor”, instead of the male protagonist that had been with the whole movie,and whom we expected to be the survivor since that was the case in the 1981 movie. The ending was so illogical and stupid that I feel like deducting one whole star from the movie’s rating because of it. However, being the generous fellow that I am, I’m going to let the other 90% of the movie rest on its laurels. Evil Dead is one of the few remakes that does justice to the original. When I compare this to crap that rapes everything that made the original movie good, like Steve Martin’s remake of The Pink Panther, there’s no doubt that 2013’s Evil Dead deserves a very good rating. Unlike the vast majority of remakes out there, it understands what made its predecessor a great movie.

 

*** out of ****

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