Before you go tree-raping me and shooting me with your boomstick for lobbying for a remake, hear me out. Evil Dead is maybe the only occasion where a remake has taken its predecessor’s plot, dissected it, put it back together in a much enhanced way, and sewed it back up. I loved what Sam Raimi did to create scares on a tiny budget, and made a gruelling, gory #Film that was also a fun ride. It’s essential viewing for horror fans, so you may want to stab me with a pencil for saying this, but I think the remake is better. It lived up to its “most terrifying film you will ever experience” promise.
What a remake should be
I thought it was gearing up to be another lame remake with unnecessary backstory in its opening scene, like the Carrie remake having Carrie’s birth as its opening scene. The story didn’t need that, it was an excuse to have a gory and disturbing (yet ineffectively so) opening number. The opening sacrifice scene of Evil Dead was pretty generic, so I thought all that followed would be generic, but boy was I wrong. I stuck with it, thankfully, and saw what still stands as the scariest horror film I’ve ever seen.
Evil Dead follows a heroin addict whose friends take her to a cabin in the woods so she can kick it. Already this gives a plausible reason behind the cliched setup where a bunch of kids stay at a cabin in the middle of nowhere and die one by one. She’s there to kick her drug habit, which gives us a reason to root for her. This also gives her friends a reason not to believe her when she says she’s seeing demons, which adds to tension and suspense, rather than your typical ignorant “Yeah, right, demons, sure.” We as the audience of a supernatural horror movie know she’s not hallucinating, but she’s the only one on-screen who knows that, so already we’re on the edge of our seats.
CGI effects put to good use
Modern computer technology is put to good use (which is rare) to make scenes like the tree-rape and the biting – that were already graphic in 1981’s Evil Dead – even more horrifying and visceral, making them more effective. It’s no-holds-barred in the way Raimi didn’t have the money to be. The filmmakers didn’t worry about censors, and that improved the film. For example, one girl has gone so mad from all she’s seen – demonic possessions and such – that she’ll do anything to stop it happening to her. She can see she’s possessed as it spreads through her veins. She wants to stop it, she has no idea how. She takes a mini-chainsaw thing, like a regular chainsaw but skinnier, making for a longer, more gut-wrenching cut, and literally slices off her own arm, and the camera stays on her the whole time. It’s brutal, hard to watch but at the same time hard not to watch, and then the demon possesses her anyway.
A guy gets slashed with broken glass, stabbed repeatedly with a dirty syringe, shot with some nails, smashed up with a crowbar (including one detailed shot of his hand getting mashed and his fingers twanging apart), and impaled with a blade to the heart, and it still takes him a while to die, and the funny part is, you don’t feel like he’s getting off easy by surviving so much – you wish someone would put the poor guy out of his misery. Fede Alvarez directs Evil Dead masterfully, like his characters are voodoo dolls of his audience – you feel their pain.
It has a satisfying climax
By the end of Evil Dead, which I won’t spoil, there’s an effective payoff, which is rare in horror. Often, the ending features a dumb twist that comes out of nowhere and ruins the film to the point that you feel as though you’ve wasted ninety minutes of your life, but this ending escalates naturally and rocks you with fear. If you stick around through the credits, there is that happy-ending-that-isn’t-really-happy-it’s-a-red-herring-for-an-unnerving-sequel-setup that every horror movie has that’s meant to leave you scared but unintentionally ruins the whole film, but ignore that because at the very end, Bruce Campbell returns as Ash. Groovy. #Remakes #Cinema