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Review: ‘Evil Dead’ remake a gem among past, rehashed horror films

Courtesy of MCT

Wouldn’t you know it, the remake of “Evil Dead” actually does justice to the original. 

I’m a big fan of the 1981 original, and the quality of horror films seems to be on a sharp decline lately, so I entered the theater with very low expectations. I couldn’t see how a modern remake could possibly capture the sheer glee and camp of that gore-drenched cult classic. But justice was done, and this installment to the “Evil Dead” franchise is a rare gem amid an ocean of tired, rehashed horror releases.

“Evil Dead” follows five friends who travel to a cabin and come across demons living in the woods, and is set to hit theaters Friday.

Sam Raimi, who wrote and directed the original and its two sequels, did not reprise his role for this remake. Instead, he signed on as producer while relative newcomer Fede Alvarez took up the writing and directing.

And it’s clear that he actually put some effort into keeping me entertained with this movie, which is something that seems to be lost in most of today’s horror films. That goes double for remakes. Remember how god-awful “The Omen” (2006) was? 

But “Evil Dead” somehow effectively captures the original’s joyful attitude and impossibly gory scares, even while deviating quite a bit from the details of its plot.

One addition is a backstory as to why these young friends are going to the secluded cabin in the woods in the first place: a girl is attempting to clean herself up from what looks like heroin, with her friends there supporting her. 

At first I was wary of this addition – one of the things I like so much about the original is that there is practically no plot or character development. A group of obnoxious young people go out to a cabin, a demon awakens and then the slaughtering starts. But the added storyline actually serves the movie quite well, as it gives the young people a reason to force the girl to stay when she starts reporting weird, supernatural things happening in the woods around them. They think she’s just having bad withdrawals, and that if they all pack up and leave she might just get right back on the wagon.

But it doesn’t take long before they realize this is obviously not the case. Then they start dropping. 

And the filmmakers come up with some pretty creative ways of torturing these people with unthinkable gore. One part sees a girl, possessed by some spirit or demon, licking a knife so hard her tongue splits, then proceeding to have a bloody make out session with her quite unwilling friend. And like many of Raimi’s movies, there’s plenty of bile and vomit spewing in impolite places.

All in all, I was extremely impressed with the clear effort put into the new “Evil Dead.” It doesn’t just cash in on the name of the original and throw some obligatory, lazy scenes of blood and pus on the screen. It obviously has a lot of fun with the content, and to me, that’s what makes a good horror movie. 

Even though there’s no place nowadays for the awesome campiness of early gore-core flicks, “Evil Dead” proves that going to a horror show can still be as fun as it ever was.

 

Grade: Solid A

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