Film Review: The Evil Dead
Really since the release of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hollywood horror has taken a turn to the past to create its future. With particular focus on the late seventies and mid to late eighties, we have seen everything from classics such as Halloween to The Omen to lesser known B-horror classics such as Prom Night and April fool’s day. Some of these films have been very successful both financially and critically whilst others have seemed to fail in the same ways as their source material did some thirty-odd years ago. When one of these rehashes of old horror comes about it is inevitable that the audience is going to compare it to the original and there’s always someone proclaiming how angry they are that they would remake a “classic”; How disrespectful to the original blah, blah, blah. I for one have no problem with these remakes, as with any film with a well known source material, be it book, movie or otherwise, I think the important thing is that the film is able to stand on its own merits and be able to satisfy; thankfully Evil Dead manages to do so in a bloody good way.
The thinking behind revisiting the budget cult film The Evil Dead from 1981 was very much the same as it was with the latest installment of Friday the 13th (2009); and that is to refresh and give new life to the franchise. Indeed this proved incredibly successful with Friday the 13th, a film which turned out to be very much both a reboot and new chapter in the series, one that now has a sequel in the works. This is wonderfully refreshing to see on screen, we are not given the same old film that we know, rather we get something that is fresh with a new story, new characters, but one that ignores the events of the past and uses certain iconic images and scenes to pay tribute to the fans of the original as opposed to simply modernizing it. Evil Dead takes place in a cabin much like the one scene in Sam Rami’s 1981 film, however the characters are totally different, as are their motives for being there. As we expect, eventually the book of the dead is found, read from, and all that lovely wacky gore follows from there. Gore is one thing that this film is not at all light on and thankfully so. It looks absolutely fantastic and has within in it some of those wonderfully exploitive moments of gross out such as when a girl mockingly splits her tongue in half on a blade. The final scene of the film is one of the most satisfying horror sequences in terms of its gore that I have seen recently, one that reminds me a little of the final death in the 2003 French extreme horror film High Tension, if only in its unrelenting graphicness.
The characters in Evil Dead are not the most well rounded, or interesting characters ever written and I have read that many critics were displeased with this. I feel as if these critics probably forgot the fact that they were seeing an Evil Dead movie, this isn’t supposed to be a brilliant character piece, it’s supposed to be an enjoyable time watching good looking teenagers getting ripped apart in interesting ways. However, if you do have a horror film with totally flat characters then the film does lose some of its more frightening qualities due to lack of interest. Here is where Evil Dead arguably falls a little flat, however as a horror film fan I felt that all the characters and the actors who played them carried interesting enough relationships with one another that I was able to stay with the film throughout, for other perhaps, fans of more intellectual or psychological horror pieces this film may not be for you.
It is not so much the writing of a horror film such as this one that carries it, sure it is important, but it is the execution that is key. Evil Dead’s director was chosen by the man Sam Rami himself, making it Fede Alvarez first feature film and it really does not show. The film is filled with moody lighting and well colored and composed shots that create a wonderful environment for bloody mayhem to ensure. By the end of the film I was excited to see how the last lovely lady would get away and hugely satisfied with every bucket of blood that was thrown at me. Evil Dead is one of the most satisfying gore fests I have seen in a long time and I happy to say that if you are a fan of the original I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this energetic revisit to that creepy cabin the woods.
Sadly here in Perth the film barely received a theatrical run with only one
screening as part of a double feature with Dead
Man Down at Luna Cinema which I was lucky enough to attend. However you can
pick up a copy of Evil Dead at any JB Hi Fi or I suppose you could always find
it online somewhere, whatever. However the DVD features a great moment at the
end of the credits with the one and only Bruce Campbell so look out for that.