This Hollywood remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic was number one at the US box office on its opening weekend.
This is testament to the multi-million dollar marketing budget that the original never had.
Raimi and the original star, Bruce Campbell, have produced this film, and it is by no means an insult to the source.
A group of twenty-somethings head to a cabin in the woods to help their friend, Mia, kick a heroin habit.
One of them foolishly reads aloud from a book they find bound in barbed wire, releasing an evil spirit that wants their souls.
Mia’s demonic possession is of course mistaken for cold turkey, delaying their realisation of what is really going on.
Tension is boosted by an old resentment that lingers between Mia and her brother, David.
Evil Dead nods to fans of the original. There’s a tantalising shot of a chainsaw here, an early use of the line “I love you, baby” there and several memorable scenes are re-enacted.
But it also plays with your expectations so that you don’t know who will be left standing—and whether they will have all their limbs intact.
Bruce Campbell said that he wanted to see an end to the “torture porn” era—films such as the Saw and Hostel franchises.
These revel in the most horrific violence that human beings can do to each other, and particularly feed on misogynistic sexual violence.
Evil Dead is something different. It is swimming in blood and projectile vomit, but it does manage to retain some of the light touch and—dare I say—innocence of the original.
There is no deranged serial killer with a gimmick, no particular focus on the women’s sexuality.
This is good old fashioned demonic possession, with lots of gory make-up and prosthetics. But it’s on a budget of more than £17 million rather than the shoestring of the 1981 film.
It also rejects the bleakness of many modern horror films. The moral of the story is that evil thrives on division and it gets scared when you fight back.
It’s not a bad film and if you like a bit of gore of the kind that makes you giggle, then it is worth seeing.
But the remake simply can’t touch the charm and humour of the original.
When Raimi first talked about doing a remake, he said that he wanted Evil Dead to get the cinema experience it never had 30 years ago.
This film is no substitute for that.
Campbell, in 2009, bemoaned the laziness of Hollywood churning out remakes and sequels. I think this may be a more truthful reason for the film.