Written by J.T. Johnson
A young filmmaker named Sam Raimi created a low-budget horror film called “The Evil Dead” in 1981. In the 32 years since the first film’s release, audiences have witnessed two absurdly fun sequels and countless other projects such as video games and comic books. Therefore, it should really come as no surprise that producers Raimi, Robert G. Tapert and Bruce Campbell have created a ridiculously fun remake of the cult horror classic.
In reality, the film can be considered either a reboot or a loose continuation to the original series. While the humor element is toned way down unlike “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness”, the movie contains several fun sequences as well as a couple of scenes that are genuinely creepy and even a little bit scary at times.
A young man named David (Shiloh Fernandez) is returning to an old cabin in the woods where his family used to live. When he gets there, the audience is introduced to David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), two old friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Mia (Jane Levy), David’s troubled sister. They are at the cabin so that Mia can detox from her substance abuse.
On their first night there, they discover an old room in the basement where several dead and decaying cats are hanging from the ceiling. Eric also discovers a book that is apparently used for witchcraft. Later, Eric studies the book and a few chants later, something is awakened and it begins to terrorize the five characters.
One of the things that helps make this film work is that the tone is returned to the more serious nature of the original film. Yes, there is some humor, but the movie somehow recovered a sense of creepiness and even a few scares along the way. With a more serious tone in mind, nothing is really there to take away from chilling atmosphere of the cabin in the woods.
Another great aspect about this film is the generally CGI-free effects. Director Fede Alvarez uses practical effects like the original movie and there are only a couple of scenes where CG was used for just a little touch up. Most horror filmmakers today think that they can make genuinely scary monsters in a computer. Alvarez and his crew proved that sometimes, these things should take an old school approach.
Alvarez also doesn’t forget the type of movie he is making either. He subtly and not-so-subtly provides nods to the original film that could make any fan of the original squeal with joy. For example, there is a rusty old car that looks a little like the car Ash drove in the original trilogy of films. These moments were a lot of fun to catch, but at least they’re subtle enough not to distract newcomers.
Alvarez also pays tribute to Raimi by simulating some of Raimi’s famous cuts from the first classic. When the demon is unleashed upon the cabin, the camera zooms through the woods and the sound effects give the idea that something bad is descending upon the characters. There’s even a montage sequence where David plans his next move against the deadites.
Remakes or reboots have a generally bad reputation, especially among horror fans. Thankfully, Alvarez gives audiences a decent remake and a loose continuation to the other films in the series. That is one heck of an accomplishment and if there are any horror fans out there, then they need to see this film as soon as possible.