When this was first announced I felt nothing but hate in the very fibre of my being for the idea. Remaking The Evil Dead to me seemed like an impossibility since there simply is no replacing Bruce Campbell, and the fact that this was how Raimi and Tapert planned to appease the fans asking for Evil Dead 4 made me feel like they just didn’t give a shit about The Evil Dead franchise anymore, might as well just hand it off to someone else to remake it.
Then I started reading about how Raimi, Tapert and even Campbell were very hands on with this one. Then I heard they planned to do as much as humanly possible with practical effects and that the intent was to make a film as shocking for audiences today as The Evil Dead was to audiences back in 1981. My hatred began to be chipped away and I started hoping that this might be more of a situation like the Dawn of the Dead remake. A remake that is entertaining in its own right. One which has its heart in the right place, even if it misses most of the point of the original, but can coexist with, although never replace, the original.
Then the red band trailer was released and I have to admit, they hooked me in with that one. It looked like this was going to be a truly kick ass time at the movies. The trailer had some absolute sickness going on in it and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to be in the actual movie if this was just the trailer.
So, here I am after seeing it opening night. How do I feel about Evil Dead you might ask? In a word: disappointed. Did I hate it? No, it was OK. I didn’t want it to be OK though, I wanted it to be awesome.
Let’s get the good out of the way first. The gore is excellent. There is some seriously brutal shit in this movie that had me grinning ear to ear (especially when some wimps had to leave the theatre, yes!!). Also, the production values are all top notch. The movie looks great, and is well shot. They did quite a good job recreating the outside of the cabin too. I liked that they made it mean and nasty again also. But that’s about it.
Sorry folks, but this movie pretty much misses the mark in every other area.
First problem: remember how I was saying that I couldn’t wait to see what was in the actual movie based on the taste I got from the trailer. Well let me put it to you like this: It’s more like if you bought a fully loaded bacon cheeseburger in a drive thru. Before you get home you decide to take the patty, the bacon and the cheese out of the burger and eat them. Then when you get home all you have left is bits of cheese, and grease left on a bun with a few other soggy condiments. Yeah, they show pretty much every single gore scene in the fucking trailer. Maybe I can't judge the movie because its marketing ruined it, but when the marketing is what made me want to see it in the first place, I think it's an issue that probably should be considered.
I kept reading about how fucking brutal this movie was, which it was, but while watching it I kept waiting to see something even sicker than the trailers but it never happened. Once you’ve seen a gore gag once it kinda loses impact, so instead of being blown away I felt like I was just ticking of a checklist of scenes I already knew were coming.
Second problem: the writing for this thing is fucking terrible, TERRIBLE. Consider this your obligatory SPOILER ALTER.
We get this opening sequence with this weird hick family helping this father burn his possessed daughter to save her soul and then they never appear again in any capacity, so why even include them in the first place? The deadites get killed way too easily. They did away with the whole total bodily dismemberment angle which I simply cannot understand and which was one thing I was most looking forward to. Now you can kill them like any old regular human. They establish that you can only free their tortured souls by burning them or burying them alive (umm, ok...), but I guess you can kill them any old way, souls be damned. They set up this stupid melodrama with the main guy character about how he’s abandoned his friends which amounts to exactly diddly squat. Mia while possessed horrifically burns herself in a shower and slices her tongue in half with a box cutter, then later when she's "saved" all physical damage miraculously disappears like her character got a health pack in some video game. And the real kicker is how characters in this movie continually do things so completely idiotic it is simply unforgivable. We're not talking your usual "don't run upstairs idiot" clichés, some of this is just head scratchingly bad. I’ll give a couple of examples:
Just prior to the first scene where a possessed Mia (the main character) attacks she’s given a dose of tranquilizers that, and I am quoting a character who is apparently some sort of doctor or nurse, “would be enough to knock out a horse” and she is completely unaffected by this. Later in the movie when the Book of the Dead tells our characters that you can stop the evil by burning them possessed the brother of Mia decides he’s going to douse the cabin in gas and set it ablaze with Mia in the cellar. Keep in mind here this is after several extremely brutal encounters so the whole, “but she’s my sister” angle isn’t flying with me here. He of course wimps out. Ok that’s stupid, but whatever he’s a sentimental pussy I can accept that. What I can’t accept is that his brilliant plan is to enter the cellar and attempt to tranquilize her with the same fucking drugs as the last time!! That, my friends, is plain and simple BAD FUCKING WRITING.
Here’s another one, the cabin reeks and Mia is constantly complaining about it. The dog starts sniffing around a floor mat and underneath is a trap door with a massive blood smear leading into it. The blood is still red mind you, which is movie stupidity in its own right, but whatever. In the cellar they find something like 50 dead mangled rotting cats hanging from the ceiling with barbed wire and a plastic bundle wrapped up in barbed wire next to a shotgun and some shells. I think right there is when everyone packs up and gets the hell out of dodge. They don’t of course because they need to stay at the cabin to detox Mia and “let’s not make a bigger deal out of it than it is” (another brilliant quote). Again, it’s stupid, but maybe none of them liked cats or something. But what I can’t accept is that the high school teacher guy takes the plastic bundle, goes into his room, clips open the barbed wire, opens it up and finds the book of the dead. All over the book someone has written warnings basically saying “DO NOT FUCK WITH THIS”, and there’s a passage completely scribbled out. What does Mr. Genius decide to do? Of course he makes rubbings of the words and then inexplicably decides to read them all aloud as he’s doing it, because people often read out loud when they are by themselves. In the original they didn’t know what they were doing when they were playing the tape and it was all a joke, but in this one the guy wilfully ignores every possible warning sign and does exactly what he shouldn’t. I am sorry, no one would do that.
My third issue, the sound design. In The Evil Dead you’ve got the roar of the demon as it’s flying around chasing people and the awesome distorted monster voices of the possessed people. I had hoped that they’d take these elements and totally amp them up with modern audio techniques. But they didn’t. Everything felt completely subdued and tame by comparison. The invisible entity didn’t even really make a noise at all and the possessed people had only slightly augmented voices. Imagine how cool it would be if they’d have gone for a similar style of distortion but had the voices layered and coming out of the surrounds and shit? That could’ve been so fucking cool, instead I just felt let down every time they opened there mouths to speak.
You might’ve noticed I haven’t actually mentioned the actors or acting in this movie. There’s really nothing too mention, it was almost entirely flat, and uninspired. You simply will not care in any way about any of these characters. I am not joking when I tell you there is a character in this movie who literally has 3 lines before she has to cut her own arm off with a fucking electric turkey carver. This is a movie with a cast of 5. I don’t remember any of their names but Mia. The movie also suffered as every remake has by casting way too pretty. Ever notice how in all the classics the characters all looked like real people and not like they stepped off the set of some teen drama on the WB network or a fucking Calvin Klein add? That goes a long way to endearing those characters to those of us watching who also do not look like models. Like Mia is supposed to be a fucking junkie? Really, that was the best junkie makeup they could do? I’ve seen what junkies look like, and they ain’t pretty lemme tell you.
This movie just misses the mark in so many ways. On sheer visuals alone I give it a mild pass, but as a remake of The Evil Dead, or even a good stand alone horror movie, it is lacking. I’m sure I’ll get flack for not really liking this but enjoying the utterly retarded Texas Chainsaw 3D (which had the most idiotic continuity error in the history of cinema), but at least there everyone going in knew the movie was a piece of shit, they just went totally all in with their idiotic concept to the point where it was so outlandish that it actually worked. That was a movie where you actually did want to see a sequel because it was hard to believe where that one was leaving off. Here, you can tell everyone was so serious about making this great movie, and it has a lot going for it technically, that it makes it somehow much worse when there is so much stupidity happening.
I dunno, maybe you’ll like it more than me. The Evil Dead series are my favourite movies of all time, so perhaps in my case there was simply no winning me over.