The nightmare lives again
With the aid of producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, the director and star of the eighties classic, Fede Alvarez achieves a level of horror that was absent from the original film. While his remake is as chaotic, error-filled and clichéd as its predecessor, its flaws are the very same attributes fans adored about Raimi’s cult hit.
Until recently, remakes were a much maligned and constantly feared, money-spinning studio creation, but after an influx of impressive reinterpretations (The Crazies, Let Me In and most recently Dredd), audiences are beginning to welcome remakes of their much loved originals. The success of these recent remakes is due to the filmmakers who combine their own intentions with a consideration for the original material. As well as paying homage and modernising these much loved classics, they inject something new to express an original take on recycled material. That’s the true success behind Alvarez’ Evil Dead.
The narrative is unsurprisingly similar, but intriguingly different to the original, and follows five friends, including estranged siblings Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez), who are staying in a remote cabin in the woods to force Mia out of her fatal drug addiction. After unintentionally unleashing a demon with a hunger for possession and murder, the group must figure out how to stay alive and survive this evil dead.
Though the plot appears familiar, the Uruguayan filmmaker’s ambitious reinterpretation is far from a shot-for-shot remake. Rather than facing the tricky, dangerous task of replacing Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ash Williams, the character is ignored altogether in this alternative tale. At the centre of the unavoidably predictable story are a different set of characters, updated to suit a more identifiable set of clichés. The use of relatively unknown actors supplements the plot, but also restores the B-movie sentiments of the original; despite its comparatively monstrous production budget. Familiar set pieces are replicated, but with welcomed and well executed alterations, this boisterous remake feel like an entirely unique experience.
Where this film thrives is with its presentation of horror. Offering a satisfying blend of classic chills with contemporary jump scares and modern day levels of excessive gore, Alvarez’ achieves deeply unsettling atmosphere. The film greatly benefits from the dissociation with computer generated special effects and its attention for detail with grizzly prosthetics and gruesome make up results in a genuinely terrifying and visceral production.
Evil Dead is a great example of why remakes shouldn’t always be feared. Fede Alvarez’ film is far from perfect, but it’s an entertaining showcase of horror. It’s creepy, innovative and outrageously gory. While it’s not the beacon of contemporary horror my praise may leave you expecting, it certainly doesn’t deserve the vehement criticism it is receiving.