“Evil Dead”

Evil Dead

Emily Sierra Poertner

Evil Dead, a remake of the popular 1981 movie The Evil Dead, premiered Friday, April 5. There are two ways to have watched this movie, like all remakes: as someone who has watched the cult classic, or as a newcomer to the franchise.

The Evil Dead has a long history. It started in 1978 as a super 8 short, written and directed by Sam Raimi starring Bruce Campbell, called Within the Woods with a budget of only $1600. Three years later, The Evil Dead, a full movie version of the short was released with the same writer/director and still starred Campbell. In 1987, The Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn was released, and, in 1992, Army of Darkness, the final installment in the trilogy, was released.

The refreshing of the Evil Dead franchise was fully supported by Raimi and Campbell. Both of them were involved with the remake as producers.

Fede Alvarez, the writer and director of Evil Dead, is incredibly new to feature films. He is a Uruguanyan filmmaker best known for his short film, Ataque de Pánico! (Panic Attack!), that was released on YouTube in 2009. He was originally angry hearing The Evil Dead was being remade, being a longtime fan of Raimi’s work. In a recent interview, Alvarez admitted, when he was asked to direct the remake, he thought, “Let me save it. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.” It is every fan’s dream to direct the remake of a movie they love, and his response is what a true fanatic’s response should’ve been.

Alvarez was very adamant that he wanted to respect the original work. He “didn’t want to remake it;” he “wanted a new set of characters, a new story. That was the best way to respect the original”. So, Evil Dead isn’t so much of a remake as it is a rewrite. The basic framework of the movie is still the same; five youngsters get trapped in the woods and must survive through the night.

In this remake, though, the group of friends has gathered to help Mia (Jane Levy) quit her drug addiction after the loss of her mother. Her friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), know the troubles she’s had before, while her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) have been out of Mia’s life and are essentially clueless about her past.

As Mia is going into withdraw, she insists there is a bad smell in the cabin. When David and Eric investigate the creepy basement, they find the necronomicon. And, of course, someone has to go out of their way to read from the creepy book when it, very obviously, isn’t supposed to be read. Like all good necronomicons, it calls back the dead, and the fight to survive the night starts.

From start to finish, Evil Dead was a gore fest; not to say there’s anything wrong with that. The movie includes everything from ritual sacrifice, self-mutilation, to brute assault, and everything in between. While there may be questions of how they didn’t run out of fake blood, the movie certainly doesn’t lack traditional horror moments. There are unexpected scenes that can truly make you jump along with a few creepy, not-quite-human demons that stick in your mind. The movie posters claim it is “the most terrifying film you will ever experience,” and, while I may not go that far, it probably will be the goriest.

There are a few things that might disappoint old fans of the movie. While still bound in human flesh, the necronomicon lacks the face on the cover. Also, while the scene with the girl in the forest getting captured and violated by a tree is still a part of the movie, it doesn’t seem as shocking or as wrong as it did in the original. Despite what some may see as faults, it is a good tribute to one of the first real horror movies.

In the remake, Alvarez does manage to tie in little things from the original movie like the magnifying glass necklace. That may not seem important to new viewers, but the old fans will recognize it. Also, the soundtrack of the professor reading from the book, a key part of the original movie, is heard during the final credits in the new Evil Dead. There is even a surprise at the end for all Bruce Campbell fans that is worth waiting through the credits.

There are thoughts in motion of continuing this current track of Evil Dead movies to possibly more Evil Dead/Army of Darkness themed stories, but Raimi, Alvarez, and Campbell all seem to be on different pages. We’ll just have to wait and see.