Recycling old ideas has been a common thing in Hollywood recently with more and more big budget remakes/reboots of classics or sequels in established franchises sprouting up all over the place. Sometimes it works, reintroducing a classic idea to a new audience with more modern themes and effects; sometimes it doesn’t with losing sight of what exactly it was that made the classic great. Horror movies aren’t immune to this revisiting of existing properties and the latest horror reboot is this year’s Evil Dead. A reenvisioning of Sam Raimi’s horror classic, this new Evil Dead eschews the camp and comedy of the original two films in favor of a pure, gritty, gory horror romp through evil infested woods.
The film starts out strong with a prologue that has a father trying to purge his daughter of the evil that possesses her. From there, viewers are brought to a familiar cabin in the woods where a group of friends is gathered to help Mia (Jane Levy) through her detox. The setup provides the promise of some emotional character depth, but it’s quickly lost after it becomes quickly apparent that the story only cares about Mia and her distanced brother David (Shiloh Fernandez). It’s somewhat disappointing that all this promise is lost amidst horror movie clichés, but you soon forget about it when you realize just how well they did the tension and jump scares—it’s also impossible to deny just how fun all the over-the-top gore is. In the end, though, the bit about the estranged brother and his recovering sister works out because those characters are the ones that stand out the most, so when something bad happens, you feel it—everyone else is fodder, so you’re really just waiting for them to die.
The script isn’t particularly strong, but it gets the job done. The writers surely had a ball constructing this new vision, but it is somewhat weighted down by clichés. Characters do ridiculously foolish things if only for the reason to put themselves in a situation where one of them has to die—but, as a viewer, you don’t really care because that’s really what you paid $8 to see.
It’s also worth noting that in spite of not being campy or over-the-top in its presentation of humor, this new Evil Dead has its own charms. The humor isn’t quite as apparent as it’s much more tongue-in-cheek and morbid than the original films. There’s one scene in particular that was brutally gruesome, but I couldn’t help but let out a solid laugh—a reaction I’m sure they were hoping for.
Evil Dead is built on the ideas of the classic films, but brings to the table several of its own. There are scenes that feel incredibly familiar, but then you’re thrown a completely unexpected (and pleasantly gruesome) curveball that freshens up the formula. This remake/reboot is a welcome entry in the franchise and the genre as a whole and, while it is more of a “pure” horror film, it does have moments that echo the charm of the originals. Fans of The Evil Dead and horror in general will be more than pleased with what Evil Dead has to offer.