'Evil Dead' remake OK, but not quite as 'groovy' as original
Sam Raimi's 1981 cult indie-horror classic “The Evil Dead” and its smarter, cooler followup, “Evil Dead II” from 1987, are the Rosetta Stone for the hack-and-splatter crowd.
If you want to know how to make a movie about a bunch of young idiots who think it's a good idea to camp out in a creepy cabin in an even creepier part of the woods and release some soul-swallowing spirit — and do it all with a biting (pun intended) sense of humor — these are your go-to guides. On top of that, these movies — along with the third film in the series, “Army of Darkness” — acted as blood-drenched calling cards for a director who would go on to make the first three “Spider-Man” films.
But, except for those just looking at the bottom line, there was no need for a remake. Yet, that's exactly what we get in “Evil Dead,” a bigger-budget “re-imagining” with Raimi as producer and upstart Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez (whose short, “Panic Attack,” became something of an underground sensation) directing and co-writing. (Diablo Cody, of “Juno” fame, also is listed as a writer).
The result is far from an embarrassment, unlike, say, Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of “Psycho.” “Evil Dead” is an efficient, exceedingly grisly horror film that goes places that Raimi could only dream of in the '80s when he was working with $5 and a bottle of ketchup. And, there are some clever nods to the original thrown in that probably will sail right over the heads of anyone not familiar with it.
Yet, without the low-rent cheesiness and the hint of horseplay that made the originals so enjoyable, “Evil Dead” becomes a numbing exercise in overkill. Literally.
The setup this time is that five friends have gotten together in this remote location to help one of them — Mia (Jane Levy) — kick her substance-abuse problem. She's doing it cold turkey and what better way than in a place with no distractions? The friends include her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and even someone with medical training, Olivia (Jessica Lucas).
But it's Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) who finds the dusty Book of the Dead in the cabin and — despite the explicit warnings that nothing from it should be read aloud without dire consequences — proceeds to read from it. (Certainly, the IQ levels of the characters haven't improved since 1981).
Faster than you can say “Have you guys never seen a horror movie before?” a demon is unleashed that initially takes possession of Mia before moving on to others.
It's all delivered with the requisite scares as Alvarez often effectively ramps up the tension.
Yet, after a while, it's hard to care too much about what's going on, as the bloodletting escalates into bloodbath and “Evil Dead” becomes less a film and more of an exercise in shock tactics.
No doubt, “Evil Dead” will please the hardcore gore fans. But anyone who prefers their jolts with tongues firmly in cheek instead of bloodily on the outside should stick with “Evil Dead 1.0.”
Cary Darling reviews movies for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vin Diesel showing some love for Pittsburgh and co-star
- Saldana, Luna talk Day of the Dead, ‘Book of Life’
- DVD reviews: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ and ‘Persecuted’
- Review: ‘Book of Life’ offers up tale told in animated colors