Evil Dead is a remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror film The Evil Dead. In both films a group of young students visit a cabin in the woods. Here they stumble upon a mysterious “Book of the Dead” which holds the power to unleash evil into the world. The first film was an absolute milestone in its genre, breaking further ground in the two sequels with its unexpected humour. The most horrific part of the remake is the fact that the plot comes straight out of a Disney movie, wherein the hero is only redeemed once he makes peace with himself and those he loves. However, there is some confusion here as there is no clear hero or protagonist. Arguably, the female lead Mia is meant is to be the protagonist. However, by affording her brother with a character arc and a chance to save the day it fails dismally in subverting the male hero of the original trilogy. Mia is introduced as weak and moody and, bar the end, spends the rest of the film possessed by evil. Moreover, the female characters – as before – are possessed first and succumb the quickest. And the infamous rape scene returns. The latter is one of several nods to the trilogy and these borrowed remnants should bode well with fans.
The script is awful and although no one expects a revolutionary story with poignant dialogue from a horror movie, the attempt to give the characters depth and back stories will make you cringe. Besides which, everyone in this film is so stupid and annoying you will want to bash them over the head with the “Book of the Dead”. There is no place in the remake for humour and thankfully they do not try, but sadly it steers clear of real scares as well. Once overcome by evil the possessed bodies are eerie and disturbing, but the wide, staring eyes and blood-spurting mouths are all too familiar. It feels like the cast of The Ring is being paraded through the film and you can see the dreadful bits coming from a mile away. As modern horror is prone to do it relies on blood and gore for its thrills. This is no big surprise, but Evil Dead truly cops out on terrorising its audience by trying to create atmosphere with stormy weather. This serves absolutely no purpose other than to make girls’ shirts cling to their chests. The ending, meanwhile, is a terrible hash of Titanic and Carrie.
The originals raise the bar very high and the remake must be commended for not being a carbon copy. With the involvement of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (the director and star, as well as producers, of the trilogy), the presence of this film is perhaps an attempt to recapture their youth. Or maybe it is merely a nostalgic tribute on the part of the current filmmakers. Whatever the case, today’s socio-political climate means filmmakers, particularly of the horror film, are faced with a very different audience than 30 years ago and the things we fear are no longer from beyond the grave.