The blood flows freely in the remake of the Evil Dead, so much so that in comparison the preceding trailer for Carrie looks a bit dry. When word of a remake was first announced, there was an outpouring of protest from hard core Deadites, myself included, who were convinced that touching such an accidental masterpiece was sacrilege of the highest kind. But after Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell jumped on board there was nothing but positive press and eager anticipation and I found myself quite excited for opening weekend.
The premise remains the same, a group of friends head up to a hilariously rundown cabin and become entrenched in a demon rising possessed slaughter. Bruce Campbell’s character, now named David (not sure how I feel about these name changes – how can there be an Evil Dead without Ash?) meets up with his sister Mia (previously known as Cheryl), as she goes cold turkey in a form of cabin fever rehab. With the support of her two friends, Eric (or Scotty) and Olivia (Shelly) along with David’s girlfriend Natalie (Linda), she buckles down for the week. Diehard fans will also nod happily at the sight of Sam Raimi’s beloved car in the first couple of scenes.
The group stumbles upon the infamous Book of the Dead, more bound and bloodied than ever before. Despite the utter creepiness of the cabin, Mia’s good friends decide they must stick it out and keep her under lock down, for her own good. Using demon-possession as an allegory for addiction was a smart update, grounding Mia’s battle against her demons in a relatable psychological reality. Good enough of an excuse for me, for then the fun can begin. When it does, there’s more then enough bodily fluids splattering about to keep the whole theatre engrossed. The tree rape scene is toned down a bit but still effective, the possessions are more brutal and in-your-face and there are all kinds of fun tools to play with, saving the best for last: the chainsaw in all its gory glory.
Shiloh Fernandez (United States of Tara, Jericho) plays David, and channels more Orlando Bloom than Bruce Campbell, a wise choice to stay clear of the brilliant campiness that was Ash. While not the most intriguing character of the bunch, he holds his own, fighting a good fight to the end. Heroism is divided instead with Mia who is played by the pretty Jane Levy (Suburgatory) and is the stronger of the two. Similarly to the successful remake I Spit On Your Grave, she is given a strong female character who endures tremendous turmoil, only to return as a stronger heroine who will stop at nothing to enact revenge on the evil that violated her. While the film holds back on the campiness of the original, there are still moments where enough humour is injected to allow an appreciative breath, inviting the audience to engage and cheer on the reels of blood.
Real praise should be given to the composer, whose classic haunting horror score is mixed with enough modern themes to keep it relevant and bytes of cheekiness to remind us of the original, bringing the scenes to life and keeping us on the edge of our seats.
Evil Dead hits enough of the old marks to satisfy fans, but infuses enough new personality to really becomes it’s own wonderful, laughing demon.
Directed by Fede Alvarez
You’re going to need a comforting, filling snack with a hint of sinful sweetness as you indulge in all this evil fun. How about some almond peanut blondies?