Its the Witchcraft in the Basement!! A Review of Evil Dead (2013)
**WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**
Its common knowledge to any hardcore horror fan that Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead (1981) was one of the most notorious video nasties of the 80’s. At the time, controversy surrounding the film was high due to its themes of demonic possession and no holding back on the gore factor. The film remains to be a horror classic, making lead actor Bruce Campbell and his character Ash an icon within the genre. I adore The Evil Dead for several reasons, mainly due to the fact it pushed the boundaries for its time and comes across as a fun, campy, edge-of-the-seat horror. I love the jaunty fast paced, camera angles that bound through the film’s woodland setting and of course Campbell’s performance is fantastic to watch along with Raimi’s direction. The sequels Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) are even more unbelievable and outrageous, leaving a trilogy of cult classics that are to be enjoyed. Its a fair assumption to make that perhaps in the 80’s the film was misunderstood as the video nasties moral panics swept society. Fast forward to 2013 and there really isn’t anything to be offended by.
Its a known fact that horror has lost its way in recent years and Hollywood is out of fresh ideas. All mainstream horror seems to offer is REMAKE, REMAKE, REMAKE! The majority of them become glossed up, full of torture porn and mostly miss the point of their originals with the exception of Maniac (2012). Therefore, like every other remake that have emerged in the past decade, Evil Dead (2013) surely didn’t warrant one. Its actually taken me a lot of debating on whether to actually give this one a chance. Following much positivity about the re-boot, I decided, why not?. So, could I have lived without seeing The Evil Dead remake? The answer is yes. Understandably times have changed and filmmakers can go as far as they want and this film certainly brought in buckets of blood and gore but that didn’t differentiate from the original and they even used practical effects over CGI which actually didn’t come across that well. Instead of incorporating a seedy, grotesque 80’s feel, the effects just replicated those of the modern horror film.
Remakes have a tendency for creating in-depth back stories for our beloved films that don’t warrant them. I’m all for keeping up the enigma and don’t need to question these films too deeply. What you don’t know is a much scarier concept. I don’t need to know that Michael Myers had a tough upbringing and I certainly don’t need a reason for the characters in Evil Dead to end up at the infamous cabin. Director Fede Alvarez clearly had the intention of re-creating the film as scary and bringing in a serious note. However it becomes problematic when in 2013, most of us are desensitized to what the genre offers meaning the film doesn’t shock like the original did. What I will praise it on is the fact it wasn’t a carbon copy of the 1981 version, it was a smart move not to include the Ash character as replicating Bruce Campbell’s unique performance would be difficult, it also means the film can stand on its own. The tone remains bleak through the use of white, black and grey coloring and the way its shot captures an isolated environment, it literally feels like the trees provide no escape.
Alvarez has left the idea open as to whether its a sequel to the original or not and developed a theory that the cabin was bought by a family years after the events of the first movie, ultimately this works as a fan fiction idea. A brother and sister along with friends plan a getaway to the demonic location in order to help Mia, the sister character go cold turkey with her drug habit but soon that pesky Naturom Demonto, the book of the dead wreaks its havoc . The narrative was set up well and had potential but could have worked better without being The Evil Dead, it felt like the film’s carnage overshadowed the initial plot and became predictable from then on. Granted, this remake wasn’t terrible and certainly not the worst I’ve ever seen, I’ll give that to I Spit on your Grave but its just another pointless remake to add to the rest of them.
Hayley Alice Roberts