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April 6, 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

by John Beutler

Given the seasoned respectability, unnerving style and uncomfortable eeriness of the original 1982 horror classic, "The Evil Dead", I must say that I was probably one of a countless mob, who cried 'foul', when it was even suggested, years ago, that a remake of the film was being batted about. A seemingly unheard-of possibility, nearly and untouchably equating to that of remaking Hitchcock's "Psycho" (...and we all know how THAT turned out, don't we??). Eventually, after countless false starts, tantalizing rumors and a meager smattering of successful remakes of '80's horror films...alas, it was assumed that SOMEONE would finally take up the task.

Very well...sigh...thy will be done, I suppose. However, as things gradually progressed, and more & more was revealed, the initially 'blasphamous-to-horror-fans' idea became more intriguing...same story, different kids...completely tense, dark and grim, no humor...much more elaborate special effects for the now-familiar violence & death Bruce, whatsoever (...what!! No Bruce?? Say it isn't so!!)...the surviving, and quite tortured protagonist at the end, being female, this time...all culminating in not only having Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell themselves, giving the film their blessing (...for THIS new version, they were there as executive producers), but also, the production and distribution powers-the-be, cut together a most visceral and kick-ass trailer, which quite frankly left this reviewer riveted, poised for a horrific, over-the-top roller-coaster-of-a-ride experience, and well...genuinely convince that this might actually work. a certain degree, that is true. This new incarnation of the now-legendary franchise DOES have a good degree of positive merits...all humorous pretenses are dropped, in favor of an introductively laid level of tension, right from the this case, the five kids are bound for the isolated cabin, hoping that the solitude will help rehabilitate one of them, who is recovering from near-fatal drug abuse...the advancement of special effects (...and a greater infusion of money, or course), given some 30-odd years, DO seem to make those of the original film look hokey and EC comic-bookish...the equally advanced sense of 'dare you to look' shock, as far as the execution of these enhanced, special effects set pieces...the overall complexity, written into the characters, themselves...all served to make this version into something more...something different, yet the same...all the while, keeping a wholly respectable grasp on the original film.

And THAT is where the film seems to falter. Anyone who is savvy to the Raimi classic, will...not so much chuckle, but give out a mental 'hey, isn't that...?", to a good number of moments in the film (...once again, besides the already familiar scenes of violence and death), which are subtly, though sometimes outright clearly...even distractingly direct and indirect 'nods' to the first film, most of which prove unnecessary. It was as if the filmmakers WANTED their film to be it's own animal, but for the sake of the franchise, felt insecurely obligated to directly/indirectly remind people of the first film, with these little, underlining 'pokes' to the ribs (...uh, stay in your seats, for one such post-end-credit 'poke', as well). In the end, this reviewer would have to say that the new "Evil Dead" WAS good...even going as far to say, a bit above average...for what it was, but hardly the 'most terrifying film you will ever experience', as promised on one of the movie posters. It might well be all that, but only if one could temporarily block having seen the original film, at all. In a way, one cannot help but envy those who have NOT seen the original film, in that respect; the remake will most assuredly serve them, the best.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Kevin. I will only go so far as to say that this was so shrug-inducing that it is no wonder why Sam Raimi gave it his seal of approval.