I’m always cautious when approaching horror movie remakes. This has to do with the fact that so many of them are unnecessary, since they’re second attempts at movies that were already pretty damn great. You know, how we don’t need remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Fog, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing (2011) and a variety of others, because they were already pretty damn good for what they were and didn’t need any updating.
There are however a few remakes that deserve existing, among those are John Carpenter’s The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t consider The Evil Dead a masterpiece. I always thought it was a middle-of-the-road movie that still at least managed to have some charm about it. And as a result, I was genuinely interested in seeing a remake that would make a proper, scary horror movie out of this franchise. And it succeeded in doing that.
Ok, I’ll probably have to back up here a bit. It’s by no means a perfect movie, it still suffers from certain symptoms that tend to crop up way too often in modern movies. First and foremost the creepy pale girl with long black wet hair in her face shtick is getting old now. Second. jump-scares aren’t scary and they’re overused in this picture. And unfortunately the characters themselves are a bit on the bland side, being overly serious and antagonistic towards each other.
Still, the movie at least attempts to have a reason for their behavior and for why these people are in a remote cabin. It’s not the usual rigmarole of going to some isolated location to party. They’re just there to help one of the characters overcome a drug addiction, hence why they’re far away from anybody else who could help that character relapse. As such, we also have a believable reason why nobody trusts said character when she starts seeing things, because they all think that she’s suffering from withdrawal.
But what really sells this movie are both the great atmosphere and the fantastic gore effects. I’m not that easily scared by movies, especially not by ones about something supernatural, But Evil Dead somehow manages to scare me, even after repeated viewings. This is also tied together to a lot of very explicit and very gross gore effects that easily surpass anything the previous movies threw at the audience. Evil Dead II might be gory as all hell and Braindead might be even worse in that regard, but I don’t think I’ve seen a movie as gory as this remake where the gore and violence make the audience feel something. That one scene where a possessed character first attacks two other characters with a nail gun and then starts bludgeoning them with a crowbar is some of the most impactful stuff I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.
The only thing that I would consider a bit of a downside is the design of the possessed people, or deadites as they’re usually called. They’re mostly just modern infected zombies with a tendency of self-mutilation in order to scare the living. I get that all the silly designs from the originals would’ve looked out of place, but going the route they went is a little disappointing. And the final appearance of the demon is a little underwhelming, especially compared to its appearance in Evil Dead II. Then again, the whole angle about the woods themselves being possessed was also mostly tossed by the wayside outside of the updated rape scene which carries even more unnerving implications.
But overall I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie for what it was. It didn’t contain too much fan service, even though it played a nice game of misdirection by hinting at various characters being the new Ash, and it even includes certain callbacks to the originals like the as the burial scene and resurrection of the buried character.
Again, it’s not a masterpiece and I doubt it will be remembered for as long as the originals because in the end it has very little to do with them outside of the token cameo appearance of Bruce Campbell after the credits, but it’s definitely one of my favorite modern horror movies.