Monday, April 8, 2013

One fan's 'Evil Dead' reactions


For the past six months, I've been anticipating the new Evil Dead, the remake of the Sam Raimi, 1981 horror flick. Since October the trailers and mini teasers have possessed the Internet and fueled the fire for the project, written and directed by Fede Alvarez (and shepherded by Raimi and Bruce Campbell).

Having seen the original several times, I was also wondering if it would satisfy die hard fans (like me) while also being unique in its own way. Like a lot of people, I am skeptical of remakes. To quote the great Roger Ebert who we just lost, and wasn't a big fan of remakes, "Every great film should seem new every time you see it." That’s a big expectation.

The premise is the same as the original (cabin in the woods, two siblings and three friends) but the names have been changed and there is much more back story, including a shocking first few minutes. I love how the first scenes sets the tone of the film. Like, "Oh shit, what did I get myself into?"

We’re then introduced to David (Shiloh Fernandez), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Mia (Jane Levy), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). By the way, notice what the first letter of each of their names spells? Clever. Mia and David are estranged siblings who recently lost their mentally ill mom. An intervention on drug-addicted Mina is the goal for the forest retreat. When a spell-filled Necronomicon is found in the basement and selfishly opened and deciphered by curious high school teacher, Eric, well, all hell breaks loose.

Okay, that’s enough about the set up. Here are my thoughts. I loved this film. Normally I’m not a fan of such gore and violence but for some reason, it worked here. If this were a "realistic" situation, I would have been repulsed but it clearly is not. It’s pure fantasy and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

It’s certainly not a film for the faint of heart or stomach, but I found myself laughing nervously at some of the most blood-soaked parts and painful-looking parts. It was a roller coaster ride that gave the rider very little time to catch their breath. Just when you think all will be okay, it’s not. David and Mia are interesting characters and we actually maybe care a little about them? Eric provided some laughs and reminded me of the stoner dude from Cabin in the Woods (which was obviously an homage to the 1981 film). Natalie is the token blonde and Olivia is the pretty and smart nurse who is there to help Mia get through her withdrawals.

I picked up on a few tributes to both Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness and this made me satisfied. They also kept that "demon racing through the woods" effect as well. This film obviously had a much bigger budget than the original and special effects have evolved. This Evil Dead is for a new generation of horror fans but it respected those of us who grew up with the grooviest S-Mart salesman in the universe.

Do yourself a favor, don’t over think this film. Enjoy it for what it is ... a great, entertaining horror movie that will hopefully leave you either loudly or silently clapping in praise when it’s over. Oh, and please stay until after the nostalgia-laden credits are over.