As is standard for most of Hollywood’s output Evil Dead is a remake. This film is is a rehash of the Sam Reimi film of the same name, originally released in 1981. It was one of the Video Nasties which caused controversy many moons ago, the main reason for Evil Dead being in that category was due to a scene where a lady is raped by some brambles. It sounds bad but when put to film it had a comedy element. The original Evil Dead looks very dated, but a lot of the effects hold a kind of charm and the film was more tongue-in-cheek than scary. It was this humour which differentiated itself from other films of its kind, and is what is missing from this remake – the new Evil Dead is a very straight horror film and is the worst for being that.
As is expected for this kind of movie, there is no sophistication of any kind. The new version of Evil Dead is basically a vehicle for showing as much gore as possible. The plot is fairly simplistic: a group of 20 some things stay at a remote cabin (as they tend to do), where they discover a book of evil. One of the cast reads from it which in turn leads to another member of the cast getting possessed. Cue a whole load of disaster. One original strand is the link between going cold turkey from drug withdrawal which one of the cast suffers from and being demoniacally possessed which the same cast member suffers from. However the film doesn’t linger much on that and it’s soon forgotten.
The action scenes are shot with a lot of extreme close ups and sometimes some strange angles, so you get right in there with the bloody violence. There really is no rest for the special effects team, and the special effects are very good, this isn’t just about using tomato ketchup, we get to see every laceration in full detail. What is good for the film is the fact that most of the effects are not CGI, which can look fake, and are probably the best thing about the film.
We get plenty of amputations, lacerations and lots and lots of blood (it even rains blood at one point), but with too much of it you soon get desensitised. Some films like Hostel keep their gross out factor well to the end. But with Evil Dead, even though some of the scenes are the most gory ever put onto film it soon loses it’s power to effect the audience. The film makers just throw everything into the mix but manages to make bloody violence passé. There should be a line that balances scares and gore, but this film just opts for gore, there’s no suspense, there’s no atmosphere, no chills and no scares. A horror film that doesn’t scare is a bit redundant.
Evil Dead isn’t great, it lacks a lot of elements that make films a classic, even for a genre film. It’s over reliance on gore rather than genuine scares and a lack of any atmosphere hobbles it somewhat. It could have done with being a lot less gross and a lot more suspenseful to become as much of a horror classic as the original.