Remaking Sam Raimi’s horror cult classic The Evil Dead comes with a price. Much like the film’s killer Book of the Dead, such a task has consequences.
The Evil Dead set a bar for low-budget horror when it crept into theatres in 1981. Some claimed it was one of the scariest films ever made while others were too busy howling at the screen. It was a film that obviously left a mark on the genre and proved that an uncontrollable environment can be just as sinister as a scary monster.
Horror filmmakers have carried their love for The Evil Dead through their work. In fact, if you ask five horror filmmakers what their influences were, I can almost guarantee Raimi’s creep-fest would be mentioned by at least four of those committed artists.
Horror has progressed since then and the genre has hit some dry spells as well, but scary movies nowadays resemble a predictable mainstream formula that seems to be OK with moviegoers.
The problem with remaking a film that set a bar for the genre is that it’s bound to take shape of this formulaic structure studios and audiences accept. That originality it created and that willingness to try something different has faded, because it’s a well known property and such chances to stray away would be risky.
Director Fede Alvarez, who seems to have a deep passion for Raimi’s movie, as well as his producers, who consist of Raimi and The Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell, want to do their best to mask the fact that 2013’s Evil Dead is following the format of every mainstream horror. It’s just another “cabin in the woods” flick. In order to distract from the obvious, they pump up every technical aspect they can.
That said, they get away with it more so than not. Evil Dead is gorgeous. Flat out, awe-inspiring, beauty soaked in its bloody disgustingness. The film is so well shot and edited that every shock or scare will send shivers up your spine or draw out extreme discomfort.
Cinematographer Aaron Morton doesn’t shy away from letting gory sequences linger. They linger in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re watching torture porn (which this isn’t), but Morton wants us to marvel at the gruesome effects through our clasped hands over our faces. Hats off to the stupendous make-up team and to the special effects department as well.
There are a handful of moments where the lighting looks too cinematic for artistic purposes which kills the grittiness (beams of light shooting through cracks in the wall and splashes of white light decorating the background), but it sure is pretty to look at.
Bryan Shaw’s editing is sharp and is able to pair up gruesome effects with the perfect reaction shots from the actors – who are playing the cliched roles we’ve all seen before, but those who are possessed do a helluva good job at doing so.
By the end credits, moviegoers will have a lot of gory fun with this modern day remake that has astounding cinematography, fantastic special effects, and a competent editor. But, it’s also a product that’ll make moviegoers, and perhaps fans, ask, “so, what’s the point to a remake?”. The filmmakers may not have solidified answers, but they do a very good job at trying to persuade you to not ask that.