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Film Review: Evil Dead

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©Films Inbound

In 1981 The Evil Dead hit theatres under the endorsement of Stephen King who called it “the most ferociously original horror film of the year”. It was a phenomenon, terrifying audiences and becoming one of the biggest “video nasties” of the time. Sam Raimi, director of the original, saw fit a few years back to authorise a remake of his classic much to the disdain of fans and there has been a nervous wait amongst devotees to see how this remake would turn out. Well, allow me to paraphrase King and say that what has been produced is the most ferociously original horror remake of the year.

The first thing to clear out of the way is that, like the Friday The 13th and The Amityville Horror remakes before, this is only a remake on spirit and basic premise, with first time feature director Fede Alvarez taking the basic concept of the original but feeling free to embellish and expand on the mythos. The second major point to note is that unlike Raimi who has a love for comedy slapstick, thus is played completely straight. The original has a fair share of intentional laughs mostly generated through horror icon Bruce Campbell and his ability to take any amount of physical punishment thrown at him in the name of good comedy. Alvarez has none of this, remembering that first and foremost The Evil Dead was supposed to scare audiences witless.

These two factors are what lead to the film being so solid as first time audiences will be suitably scared and entertained but fans if the original such as myself will also find themselves nearly more shocked at what they see, due to the expectancy of comedy. One could be forgiven for writing this film off within the first five minutes as ever since the fantastic Cabin In The Woods the premise of this film has become slightly laughable, but again Alvarez has spun that on its head somewhat.

The idea of having the character of Mia going cold turkey in the isolated location may seem absurd, but at least it tries to explain why a bunch of twenty somethings would be out in a dark damp cabin. And from their the film has free reign to just come up with inventive ways to be nasty. Honestly, in the immediate aftermath of this film you will almost feel as though you’ve watched a snuff movie. Alvarez has said he wanted to make a movie that “people feel they shouldn’t be watching” (IMDB) and mission accomplished Fede. Leaving the theatre I felt exact how I imagine people felt leaving the original, before it was slightly dated and funny.

Don’t get me wrong however, this film isn’t perfect and is probably helped by the poor quality of horror movies over the last few years. But there is a certain intelligence to how this film has been put together, finely balancing the fan service with the originality. There’s maybe a little too much effort made to explain events, and the acting of the male lead in particular is extremely wooden. But once the finale rolls along, and with it the biggest punch-the-air fan moment of the film, you just won’t care, all you’ll want is a sequel!

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