The Evil Dead franchise is MY horror franchise. Not in the sense that it belongs to me, or something pretentious like that. No, this is a franchise that my heart beats for. I can go back and watch any of the three original films, and revert back into my 10-year-old self, lavishing in all of the gore, and comedy. I idolized Ash Williams. I longed to wield a “broomstick.” I can quote ‘Evil Dead 2’ and ‘Army of Darkness’ to next week. My man-crush on Bruce Campbell is no secret. I know I am not the only one to feel this way either. Millions of people love this series. It’s really hard not too actually.
Needless to say, when the very mention of remake was announced I had my pitchfork at the ready. The quick announcement that Ash would not be appearing was gasoline on the fire, as well as Diablo Cody coming in for rewrites. The more news I heard, the more bitterly indifferent I became. This was going to be a travesty, and I wanted no part of it.
However, as its release came closer and closer. I kept hearing great things about it. The red band trailer is what eventually turned me around. Seeing some good-old practical gore always makes my heart beat just a little bit better.
I always love it when I am wrong about movies. It’s always a pleasure to have a movie go, “Fuck you, and your preconceived notions of whether I was going to be good, Tyler!” The recent Dredd remake is a perfect example of that. I never try to assume, but I can’t help it with certain films. I do my best to reserve judgment but being “the Evil Dead remake” is going to be an uphill battle in that regard.
But in the words of Dr. Manhattan, “I was wrong.”
This movie may be the most fun I’ve had watching a genre film since ‘The Raid’ last year. I felt exhausted by the end of it. In the best possible way. Is it going to win any awards next year? Of course not, unless its an audience award. By the way, see this movie in a crowded theater with the best possible sound system. Feel free to thank me later.
It’s very clear that director Fede Alvarez is going for the tone of the first Evil Dead movie. It wasn’t until the sequels that comedy became a crucial element. I think that’s the smartest move the filmmakers could have made honestly. Without taking itself too seriously, this is a horror movie that actually has some genuine scares. This isn’t a comedy…unless you are a demented fuck like me because I had a blast with this movie while still getting freaked out at parts of course. It’s so refreshing to go into a scary movie, and not be treated like a toddler. Having something jump out and go “BOO!” isn’t scary. It’s annoying. It’s just primal instinct kicking in. It’s the equivalent of someone playing peek-a-boo with a baby. Luckily, this movie relies on some good old fashioned tension, and practical effects.
I am happy to report there is minimal CGI gore, and it elevates the movie so high. We have some classics like arm removals, and tree rape, with some new favorites like car amputations and nail gun fun times. I honestly can’t wait for the unrated DVD/Blu-Ray to see what they actually had to hold back on.
On an acting level, the film is above average, especially given that this is a horror film, and thus knowing that the audience isn’t there for them. This film follows the grand Sam Raimi tradition of putting the actors, and by extension, the characters, through hell. There isn’t an Ash like character in the bunch for which I am thankful. The star of the movie is without a doubt Jane Levy, and I would like to see her continue on in this universe as the main character. I thought it was a nice twist to have all the characters out in the woods for a more meaningful purpose of helping her character, Mia, kick herion as opposed to just going to get laid. It doesn’t add a lot of depth, but more so than I am accustomed to seeing in the common horror movie. You can also tell she is having blast playing Evil Mia as well. Who wouldn’t honestly?
Shout out to Lou Taylor Pucci as well, who plays Eric, the dumbass that inevitably reads the incantation from the Necronomicon. He gets punished quite severally throughout the film for this, and it is pretty tough to watch at times.
This film looks beautiful as well, with cinematographer Aaron Morton doing a bang-up job of recapturing some of that classic Raimi camera work.
As a sidenote, hurry the fuck up and put the score for this movie on iTunes already. Roque Banos nailed the score, and it just screams Evil Dead.
Another major plus this film has going for it is that it let’s you know where it fits into the Evil Dead universe. While it isn’t clear yet, I’ve read enough interviews to know what the intentions in regards to the direction this franchise is going.
Warning: I try my best to keep my head on a swivel when it comes to writing reviews these days. It’s one of the main problems I have with people like Harry Knowles. Letting your emotions get the better of you can cause you to completely oversell a movie, and turn some people off. I have a problem keeping this in check when I write about movies like this. Now I know this isn’t an exact science. There is no way to correctly review something. Roger Ebert, arguably the best critic of our time, taught me that its okay to have passion for what you are writing about. Whether it be negative or positive, I love discussing movies. I love talking about what I hate about movies. I love talking about the things about movies that make me happy. So you know what, in honor of Mr. Ebert, I’m going to write passionately about something that made me happy without restraint. I only wish I could convey the love I have for movies with one tiny sliver of the way he conveyed his.
!!!!!!!MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE YET, READ ON AT YOUR OWN PERIL!!!!! JUST KNOW THAT YOU MUST STAY AFTER THE CREDITS IF YOU ARE AN EVIL DEAD FAN!!!
I recalled hearing something along the lines of “stay after the credits” in one of the advance reviews I read, so decided to give it a shot. After a change of underwear, I can say I am happy that I followed my intuition.
The second Bruce Campbell’s outline hits the screen, I hit euphoria. It’s literally only for 10 seconds, but it could have been 10 hours for all I care. There is no context as to why he appears, but who gives fuck?! IT’S FUCKING ASH WILLIAMS ON THE BIG SCREEN AGAIN! I will tell anyone within earshot that Ashley J. Williams is my favorite cinematic character of all time. There is hardly anyone that comes close. To see and know that Bruce Campbell could possibly be returning to the role is just…good. It’s that simple. This is better than Harrison Ford returning to Han Solo for me. To know that the Evil Dead Franchise can now continue with the foursome of Campbell, Raimi, Alvarez, and Levy is right up there with Star Wars coming back, and Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not a remake. It is a “sidequel.” Unlike ‘The Bourne Legacy’ though, it doesn’t have to make constant note of its place in the universe. It completely stands on its own, with both halves hopefully meeting in the near future. It will be interesting to see how Ash and Mia play off of each other…knowing Ash, she will be a potential love interest.
!!!!!!END OF SPOILERS!!!!!!!
I truly hope this movie makes a lot of money, or at least enough to keep the franchise afloat. I hope talented filmmakers like Alvarez stay on, and keeping pumping new life into the series on a cinematic level. This is an incredibly strong first feature for the director, and I hope this isn’t the last time he plays around in the horror genre.
Like The ‘Cabin in the Woods’ and ‘The Raid’ last year, ‘The Evil Dead’ rejuvenated not only my love of good horror, but in movie as a whole. This is a “gather around with your friends, and yell about how fucking awesome the film you all just witnessed was” type of movie, and frankly they don’t make enough of those anymore. It’s so fitting that this, and the rerelease of ‘Jurassic Park’ are coming out on the same weekend. I can celebrate the old, and the new, all while raising a glass to a man that helped me love movies all the more. RIP Mr. Ebert. See you all at the movies!