Evil Dead (2013), directed by Fede Alvarez
It’s not often I get a little nervous before a horror flick, but I have to say, with all I’d been hearing about walkouts and excessive gore, I was a little unsure what what I was getting myself into when I sat down for Evil Dead.
But then again that feeling is one of my favourite parts about horror movies. And when a film fulfills that fear, when it pushes me to my limits? Oh boy. Love it.
Evil Dead hits the spot.
I don’t often like to do this, but I feel one of the best ways to start approaching Evil Dead is by responding to complaints.
One of the main ones I’ve read (because, let’s face it, I rarely get to actually TALK about movies) is that it lacks the humour of the original, that it’s far too serious or violent or gory for the writer’s tastes, that it wallows in the muck of bad taste.
Well, first of all, if you don’t like hardcore horror movies, and I mean real horror movies – genre movies, not just “satires” and genre-benders – don’t go see Evil Dead. And, as Bruce Campbell himself has expressed, walk outs and indignation are a sign of a good horror flick.
I don’t like Lord of the Rings, fantasy stuff, but I understand that’s just my thing. I guess I’m just not desensitized to three hour films about exceptionally short people walking.
Also, I don’t think I’ve seen The Evil Dead (the “The” is the distinguishing difference) since high school, but I remember from that viewing that it was a very different movie from its subsequent parodic sequels, which I have seen far more recently. It’s different because it takes itself seriously. It’s not without humour or fun (just as this remake is not without humour), but for the most part it’s a straight-up gore fest.
That might be a tough distinction for some, because it was made with a low budget by a bunch of film students and therefore comes off as a little dated and cheesy now. But their intentions were pure. In its heart it’s an intense, gore-filled, off-the-wall horror movie.
I firmly believe that if Raimi and Campbell et al. had had the budget, technology and support this new one had, their 1981 film would have looked similar to this. Maybe a little weirder and a little funnier, sure, but I’m not arguing this new one is better than the original. Heck, I think Evil Dead 2 is better than the original. I’m just saying it’s very good, and has the similar intentions that made the original film very good.
I get annoyed by these so-called horror fans who think it’s all fun and games so long as no one makes a gory horror film that takes itself seriously. Personally I love horror movies. And that includes serious ones, ones actually intended to scare, jolt or disgust me. I don’t need or always want them to be all wink-wink, “look we’re making a horror movie, how silly,” for me to enjoy them. I’m not talking torture porn either, because Evil Dead is not torture porn. It has a plot and characters you root for.
And I’m not some sick case either. I hold down a normal(ish) job, love my mother, treat my friends well, turn into a big softy around cats and play a lovely rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on the piano.
I just happen to also enjoy watching people get dismembered with a chainsaw in a movie from time to time.
That’s why I’ll take a film like Evil Dead over a Cabin in the Woods any day. I thought Cabin had some interesting elements and some laughs, but I’ll take the actual genre film over the meta, postmodern, nerd experiment, thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. It’s a little too slick for its own good, what with the pretty people and the mostly straight-laced cinematography. It outstays its welcome slightly. It lacks the ingenuity and frantic energy of the original. Its attempts at character development is at times perfunctory and a bore. It’s no The Evil Dead.
But despite that it’s still the best, straight up, balls-to-the-wall horror flick I’ve seen in some time.
It’s full of gnarly gore and relentless intensity, all put together with a great sense of story and craft. The actors, even the female ones, are never fetishized; they come off as real people that you care about. It avoids that gloomy, sweaty-slick Platinum Dunes style that’s ruining horror. It’s a remake that actually recognizes and utilizes what made the original work. It’s still a great premise for a film, this whole book of the dead bit, and plays out well again here.
I’m not saying you have to, or should, like it. I’m just saying I did and please don’t try to ruin it for the rest of us. Thanks.
Evil Dead is in cinemas now.