I’m interrupting my Horrorhound Weekend diaries with a review of what has to be the most anticipated horror film of 2013 thus far! Yes, I’m referring to none other than…The Evil Dead remake! Throughout this past week one could hardly navigate their Facebook feeds without being inundated with numerous posts and poster shots of this long-awaited film (or maybe I just “friended” one too many horror fans)! This naturally begs the question; was it worth all of the hype or yet another source of horror fan frustration?
Why all the hoopla about it? Well back in 1981 (one helluva a year in horror I might add) there was this low-budget, independent film created by a then, unknown, writer/producer/director named Sam Raimi. The film dealt with a group of young adults enjoying a weekend getaway at a remote cabin in the woods. Shortly after their arrival, they discover a rather unusual book (written in human blood and bound in human skin) along with tape recordings from the previous occupant.
This book contains the necessary incantations for releasing ancient demons dwelling in the surrounding forest. Reading this sinister script, however, proves unnecessary as they also just happen to have the translated “audio book” version courtesy of those aforementioned tapes.
Once the evil has been released, the film becomes nothing short of a horror roller-coaster ride as the characters start becoming possessed; highlighted with old-school horror FX and gruesome visuals that prove it ain’t the budget you’re given, it’s what you DO with it that counts!
The film helped catapult Raimi’s career while turning Bruce Campbell (the movie’s hero, “Ash”) into a horror god. He’d return for its two sequels which, though having their own following of fans, were never handled as seriously as this one.
Like the original, this latest offering also features a group of young folks headed to an isolated cabin in the woods. This includes Mia (Jane Levy) joined by her absentee brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez) along with their three friends. This gathering is more altruistic than the original version as Mia is using the occasion to symbolically kick her drug habit; one that already brought her to death’s door and back. The rest are there to offer support but, unbeknownst to Mia, are prepared to take it a step further. As this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this, they all agree to use the cottage as a Henry David Thoreau-style detox center and not let her leave until the narcotics have sufficiently left her system. This locale may be ideal for cleaning someone up but could sure of used an Extreme Make-over of its own. Trust me, you couldn’t pay me to stay in that dump!
While this is going on, the group discovers the infamous Book of the Dead (no audio tapes around this time) and one of the idiot friends inadvertently etch-rubs his way into conjuring the demons. The first to be affected is poor Mia who tries desperately to warn her companions but their response is basically, “Damn, withdrawal’s a bitch!” Needless to say, they don’t realize there’s a problem until they each begin falling victim to demonic mayhem.
While the movie keeps the basic premise of the original it definitely takes on its own flavor and succeeds in bringing horror fans the goods. I had taken my teen son who admitted there were parts that scared him but, even if you don’t get frightened in the classic sense, you’ll be hard-pressed not to wince at the characters demon-inspired self-mutilation. Indeed, hardcore horror fans will walk away happy as this film (literally) rains blood and absolutely earns its NC-17 rating due to gore. Mia may have needed a night like this to quit drugs but, for many, it would provide an even better reason to start up!
All and all, the three of us walked away feeling satisfied. While purists will cringe at the very idea of remaking the classic this film in no way endangers its status. Personally I don’t have a problem with remakes as long as the creators make it their own which director, Fede Alvarez, successfully does in this instance. In contrast, prior to the movie was a preview for yet another remake in the works, Carrie. Based on what I saw there, I have NO plans to see that one!
While not for the weak-stomached (my friend, Elizabeth, stated she wanted to run home and watch something featuring fluffy bunnies after it was over) this movie does live up to much of its fervor. It has lots of great atmosphere, plenty of blood-drenched action, along with intense scenes of horror. Some may call it “torture porn” but there are times when indulging in these type of things does help to release frustrations. Either that or the gory gals I saw recently at Horrorhound Weekend helped put me in the mood. Now, sufficiently more relaxed, I think I’ll go and enjoy a nice book…provided it isn’t penned in blood of course.
Horrorhound Weekend coverage will be continuing on Thursday (and thanks for the great feedback on that btw)! On Monday I’ve got some more non-convention business to take care of…one of Dino-sized proportions!