This post is a part of the Take Another Stab series, where the horror films I hate get a chance at redemption through an open-minded revisit. There will be blood. There will be spoilers.
I swear I’m not one of those assholes who hates every attempt at a remake. Remakes are an inevitable part of the film world, especially in horror. There’s some instances where I prefer the remake. However, Evil Dead was one that flopped hard in my heart. And I really like the Evil Dead universe. Watching the Evil Dead trio throughout adolescence was actually more of a course on Raimi-isms. One learns his signatures and style and that’s what you really fall in love with. So, the promise of a 2013 remake from a new director was exciting. That meant more blood, crazier makeup, and maybe more Ash? Maybe even a wild new direction on things. And while it did deliver an impressive (or excessive?) amount of the red stuff, it barely scraped through with the story. When I thought of this film to write about next, my mind instantly went to the opening scene. I loathe that scene for a singular line of dialogue. The line infuriated me to a probably unhealthy degree. Why? Because the character swore. It’s stupid, I know. As someone who swears a lot, it doesn’t make any sense. The character was possessed, and when a possessed person is speaking, I assume that it’s the demon speaking. What kind of lame ass demon needs to add “fucking” to their threat? “I will rip your fucking soul out” and “you motherfucker, I’ll kill you” sounds like something a 10-year-old screeches on Call of Duty. If a Deadite is promising to eat your soul, it doesn’t need to swear. The threat should be enough. Too many swears cheapens the whole deal. On top of that, the delivery of these bad lines left me feeling icky. It was as if the actors hated what they were saying and I was just watching a train wreck ensue. Other than that, I don’t recall too much of the movie, apart from the blood rain scene. And there you have it. I have major beef with the dialogue and that’s why I don’t fuck with this remake. It felt too serious, too far away from those Raimi-isms. I am looking forward to watching it today because I think I’ve only ever watched it once. I was 20 then and I assure you that I was kind of a shithead back then. Has aged mellowed me out? Or am I still going to harsh my own vibe? One way to find out.
About one hour and 31 minutes later
I’ll confess that I was starting to worry about this series. Four films in and my stubbornness hadn’t shifted enough to be called a change of heart. But here I am, about to say that Evil Dead wasn’t bad! I found out that time certainly can’t heal everything. I still gagged during that opening sequence. Not out of visual disgust but THAT DIALOGUE. Nine years later and that stupid potty-mouthed Deadite still grinds my gears. I rallied and continued on. What was obliterated from my mind was how whimsical the film looked. Those overgrown woods and rotting cabin looked like a page from a fairytale. I don’t think I was swept away by it because, despite how stunning it looked, everything felt too gray. Every single thing on screen was oppressive and that was the only emotion I felt while watching. There were no uplifting moments, no comedic breaks for levity, to take me on a ride. It was dominated by somberness and for someone like me, that’s reason enough to avoid it. I thought the score was strange, too. The music felt more at home in a Victorian or Gothic ghost story. Again, I’m over here reiterating how big of a fucking downer this movie was. Besides that, it wasn’t awful. There were things that were annoying but necessary for a horror flick, like no cellphones or common sense. The nerd of the group unwrapped this BARBWIRED book as if it were a Christmas present. Had he never seen The Evil Dead? Has he not been attuned to horror tropes in this world?! My last grievance is the demonic voices. They…left much to be desired.
What did I like? I liked the brutality and I liked that it started right away. No slow burns here. The violence affected every single character tenfold and it didn’t waver. The look of the Deadites was its own and incredibly creepy. All the tongue cutting, face ripping, and nail-gunning was top notch gore. Why didn’t this register with me all those years ago? How did the SFX not make my eyes light up? The “process” or stages of possession was also cool to see. The expansion of the Necronomicon lore was fascinating, even though the text within the book couldn’t live without a least one “motherfucker” scribbled in there. Did I really care for any of the characters? Not a whole lot. The brother’s girlfriend got a shit deal when she agreed to attend this sobriety retreat and that dog sure as hell didn’t sign up for this. The withdrawal symptoms Mia was expected to have was a clever guise for the ancient evil to overtake her. That aspect gave my heartstrings a weak tug, though it felt overwhelmed by the gore. I could nit pick this story all day long but that’s futile. I understand that folks don’t come to watch Evil Dead for an insightful tale of feel-good triumph. Besides the meaty stuff, what I enjoyed most was the cinematography. Appreciating the framing and lighting of a film wasn’t always something I did. That came with experience and age. As a layman who likes to talk about movies, it’s an exciting moment of inner thought when I recognize the visual beauty of a scene. It’s akin to gazing at a painting in a gallery. I had that moment towards the end, when Mia was being buried alive. The plastic bag muddled her features while she spoke, alluding further to the fact that something horrifying was making a marionette out of her. That small, simple scene was A+ stuff in my book.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to act now. Do I write an apology letter to all my friends who liked this from the beginning? Do I buy an Evil Dead shirt? I’m not going to go that far, at least not today. What I can do is crumple up this mental prejudice I’ve been carrying around for nearly 10 years and toss it. That’s the growth I wanted for myself. The next time this redux is brought up, I promise not to turn my nose up. But Fede Álvarez isn’t off the hook, yet. I got some bones to pick with Don’t Breathe…but I’ll save that for another day.
Until next time, thanks for taking another stab with me