Evil Dead - Review

A good remake most of the time is even more difficult to make than a sequel. It is easier to come up with a completely new story that expands a previous movie than doing the exact movie again while at the same time including new ideas and avoiding to be too similar to the original...confusing isn't it?
This only gets even more difficult when people try to remake a classic movie that by imagination can't even be surpassed. A remake therefore seems like a lazy cashgrab without any serious expectations from anyone.
This was the exact thought that i had, when i heard that producers were announcing an Evil Dead remake.
But then i saw the trailer. And well, it was pretty impressive. The cult classic horror-comedy by Sam Raimi seemed to have gotten a "serious" make-over that presented it in a different more gruesome light with just the same amount of freaky gore and violence. Now, with that surprisingly well done trailer, how does the actual remake hold up?

The plot:
Five friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. 
(source: IMDb)

As with any remake, Evil Dead follows the exact premise of the original, while expanding it a short bit to make the group of protagonists more relatable.
Instead of the bare-bones premise of Raimi's original, where a group of friends somehow just decide to spend the night in a remote cabin in the woods (yeah...sounds fun), the 2013 remake has a far more real and serious approach overall.
Now, the group of five friends plan to spend some time in a remote cabin in the woods to help their drug-addicted friend called Mia to get clean and quit drugs once and for all.
Along for the trip is Mia's brother David, who shares a rather dark backstory with her - the tragic death of their mother.
Why exactly they don't just head to rehab with Mia (which would be far more effective) gets shoved aside.

"They tried to make me go to rehab but i said, noo..."

Mia's and David's backstory serves as the primary (and basically only) backstory in the entire movie to make the charaters more relatable and the horror more terrifying and dramatic. This does indeed work and makes the protagonists (at least Mia and David) far more three-dimensional, whereas the original movie was lacking this aspect and presented the teens as mear victims for the meatgrinder.
David's girlfriend Natalie, another girl called Olivia and the dumbass nerdy dude called Eric, who reads from the infamous Book of the Dead "Naturom Demonto" (basically its the Necronomicon), are the more or less characterless victims of the movie that despite some minor efforts never leave the bland horror-movie stereotype roles that they are given.
Replacing the comedic tones of the original with a more updated, gritty and serious approach was definitely the right move to make for this remake. Obviously this movie doesn't even want to compete with the original rather than just give its own idea of how things could've went down. Comedy in horror movies sadly doesn't really work anymore without deviating too drastically into one of the two genres (for example "The Mummy" (1999) which ended up as a comedy blockbuster).
This remake decides to be a straight up horror flick and does good in that regard.

Another big strength of the remake's script are its very subtle tributes. The homages towards the original Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are incorporated flawlessly into the movie's pace and story, instead of shoving those tributes right in the audience's face. Instead of an obvious "wink", fans will just watch the movie and suddenly go "Oh ok. That looks familiar. Nice!". The tributes made in this movie are ones that probably only fans of the original two movies will notice, while the rest of the audience will still not be interrupted in their experience, which is exactly the point.

Did i mention that eh...no more comedy?

Gorehounds will find plenty of good material in Evil Dead. Many scenes will have you cringe as you watch them and each dismemberment gets underlined by the actors' well delivered screams of pain or terrified reactions. Gory scenes are almost all completely new and no rip-offs of the original. And although they are very impressively executed and some quite imaginative, sadly the best scenes of the movie have all been already teased or shown in the trailers.
Yet still, it has to be given credit, that the movie tries not only to be a remake but also an update that amps up the gore in terms of sickness and realism.

With that said, director Fede Alvarez promised fans that all of the gore effects in his remake are practical effects without the slightest use of CGI. And while i still spotted one scene in the movie, where CG has obviously been used (the spread of the possession on Natalie's arm), all of the other effects actually really are practical and look great. No fake CG blood or zombies but just plain oldschool effects and make-up that would make Sam Raimi proud. Well done!

Acting is kept solid throughout the entire experience (considering that it's a horror movie).
However, Jane Levy as the possessed Mia hands-down steals the show. Her switching between a completely terrified victim and a devilish possessed zombie-witch-thing is quite astonishing and basically sells the entire movie. She practically is the main villain AND protagonist, which i personally rarely saw in any movie. Very well done by a fairly unknown actress.

Puberty will get everybody at some point.

Overall, the Evil Dead remake defies the odds and turns out to be a very solid horror remake. Regarding the tagline "The most terrifying movie you will ever experience.", it most probably won't be.
There are far far more vicious and disgusting movies out there, that just don't get released into theaters. However, considering that this movie was theatrically released, it actually is one of the goriest "theatrically released" movies and one of the most competent horror movies that i saw for quite some time.
But with all the praises for the great horror scenes and effects aside, among the greatest remakes of all time like "The Fly" (1986) or "The Thing" (1982), the Evil Dead remake sadly still remains unnecessary.
It doesn't reinvent the wheel or try anything groundbreaking other than updating a classic with great effects and a new, more serious atmosphere. But that just happens if you try to remake a horror classic.
The original was made with a micro budget and caused a surprisingly huge wave of positive reviews, which just cannot be imitated or remade with a giant hollywood-backup.
Still, Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead is a welcome and solid horror remake that gives fans exactly what they want: just plain gory fun.

Final Verdict: 6 out of 10 

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