Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Evil Dead Reboot: Two Years On

It's been two whole years since Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi produced the reboot/remake of their classic horror. Hit the jump to see how it holds up post-buzz...

So, any excitement is over; the film has made its real money, and the home entertainment release is long past (allowing the DVD to be relegated to back shelves). I decided to watch it again and see how I felt about it as a part of the Evil-Dead franchise.

We all knew it was gonna be scaled up... If you've not seen Raimi's 1981 gorefest, then take it from me: it's incredibly bloody (also, if you haven't seen it, stop reading this article and go see it!). But times have moved on, and Raimi still wants to shock, so he turns it up to 11. I mean, after Saw and the resulting torture porn, it's impossible to completely shock audiences with gore; but the Evil Dead gives it it's best shot.

Part of the problem one faces when remaking the Evil Dead is pleasing the fanbase. Raimi's original flick has had such an impact on popular culture since it's release, that legions of dedicated fans are waiting in the wings to rip the shit out of any remake/reboot. So many were surprised when the reviews first came in; they were really good. Over time, the reputation of the film eroded somewhat, and it now sits at around 60/70% on RT. But is this film a remake? A reboot? A sequel? Or none of the above?

Well, the marketing called it a remake; in a weird kinda way, it is. It's a spiritual sequel: menacing flying shots: check, trapdoor: check, necronomicon: check, grave hand-burst: check, and yes, sexual assault by tree: check. It's all there. Everything that made the original unique and great. Playing these tropes straight feels more like a legitamite homage than the self-aware parodying that we often see in remakes today. And in another way, it's a logical escalation of his film to fit with modern times. The story is darker: it's core conceit about drug addiction and famillial loss setting a bleak tone. It jump scares the hell outta you. I mean, usually I'm not a fan of jump scares, but this film handles them brilliantly! A great example would be in a scene where a car crashes into a mud pit. The camera focuses on the still pit, and we know something is going to pop up. Experience tells us it will be in the distance (it's hard to explain unless you physically watch it). But then, when the figure rises only a couple of inches from the camera, it creates a feeling of true terror. And as I mentioned before, the gore is ramped out to the max. It's insane and *SPOILERS* the film earns the accolade 'Goriest Hollywood film ever made' with it's final scene which involves the protagonist standing amidst blood-rain, ramming a chainsaw into a demons head.

But none of this means it's any good.... is it? First I must dispel any doubt, the tagline on the poster is completely untrue. It's scary at times, but doesn't nearly reach the heights of fear that classics such as The Shining manage. And in terms of characters, the superficial nature of most 'cabin in the woods' style features (except for the cabin in the woods incedentally) remains. However, the cinematography frequently amazed me. The forest shots were always going to look good, but some of Alvarez's angles and transitions are perfect - he really knows how to frame a subject. The practical gore effects are incredibly realistic to the point of extreme cringe, and they are thrown upon us at literally every moment. So it's pretty good then. It looks 'pretty', has a nice twisty plot, has the spirit of the original, and an awesome finale.

A success indeed. Does it beat the original trilogy? I would say no, but it's certainly a worthwhile addition to the canon, and Raimi/Campbell should be happy with this effort. We should too, just don't bother if you're squeamish...

Evil Dead gets 4 stars!

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