Sunday, April 7, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

First off, let me get this out of the way:  I generally despise remakes.  I don’t care for them at all.  When another one comes out, especially a horror film, I usually groan, curse the gods above and below, and roll my eyes.  Why would they do something like this?  Why trash a classic movie?  After a bit of time passes, I soften and, at some point, check it out.  Most times, the remakes aren’t total turds, but they’re not far off.  So I have no faith in remakes, absolutely none. 

“But what about The Thing?  Or The Fly?” some people cry.  Those were two incredible remakes that most would say are superior to the originals.  To those folks who bring these movies up, I say, “Congratulations.  You just named two movies out of hundreds of turds that were actually successful.”  In other words, the odds of a remake being good or better than the original are long and hard.

So what about this Evil Dead remake?  How did I feel about it?  Well, I had the usual reactions:  I groaned, I cursed, and I rolled my eyes.  Then I saw the trailer and I thought, “Hmm.  Doesn’t look like a turd to me.”  Then early reviews came in and I got excited.  Then I remembered Diablo Cody, the Queen of Overrated Writers, was brought in to “polish the dialogue” and I groaned again.  There was no way I could like this, right?


Okay, now, before I act like I’m giving this movie a ringing endorsement, I don’t think it was perfect or great, but it was pretty good.  There was no way it could be iconic like the original and it isn’t.  In fact, it’s not a flickering demon tongue on the original.  But in its own way, it was damned good.  I certainly wasn’t bored and I certainly wasn’t filled with fury or nausea (I’m looking at you, Halloween remake).  I wasn’t filled with apathy, either, which in this day and age of horrid filmmaking unfortunately makes a good movie seem great.  And I think that’s why so many people are raving over this film.  It’s good, and because most horror movies that come out suck so bad, they make this movie seem better than it is.

Some things I really didn’t like: 

The use of the main demon as a Japanese horror figure.  Um, listen guys, that was so ten-plus years ago.  I don’t need the villain to crawl around jerkily in the mud, head down, with her hair in her face.  I’m well-past over it.

The voices of the demons.  I don’t like that modulated tone.  It’s boring and doesn’t sound scary at all.  I felt like the effect they were going for was “calm terror” but it came across as flat.  There were other times when they used more of a snarl to the demons and that worked much better.

The score.  Eh.  It was kind of bland.  It wasn’t great and it wasn’t horrible, it just kind of was.  The end credit theme reminded me of a mash-up between The Omen and the original Salem’s Lot theme.  But don’t pay any attention to this complaint of mine.  I think every movie should be scored to sound like Goblin or composed in a John Carpenter style.

The dialogue.  Oh, thank God they hired Diablo Cody to fix that shit right up.  I am groaning as I type this.  The original sure didn’t have stellar dialogue, but goddamn, this one stunk at times.  Most of my problems had to do with the speeches the demons made; there were too many wink-wink, nudge-nudge, “Hey, look, this is just like out of the Exorcist” moments for me.  And would it have killed them to say just once “I’ll swallow your soul” in a more convincing manner?

Some things I did like:

The gore.  Come on, are you kidding me?  This is the main reason to like this film.  I mean, Jesus Christ, it was mostly all practical effects, and it was bloody and gruesome as hell.  It was a lot of fun seeing a splatterfest again, and this movie got that right in a perfect sort of way. 

The demons.  I thought they were creepy as hell.  There were moments when they would pause and just stare and I thought, “Hell yeah.” 

There was no Ash.  Yeah, you read that right.  I think the biggest thing they got right in this movie is they had no Ash character.  Oh, sure, there was the brother of the main girl who was dressed like Ash in the original, and there was the hippie-kinda teacher dude who got beat all to hell like Ash, but even the main heroine was nothing like Bruce Campbell.  And thank God.  Smart move on their part.  This one change gave this remake its own identity apart from the original.  There was no way they could replicate such an awesome character as Ash and they were wise not to even try.  Like my friend that went to see it with me said, “Having no Ash made this movie seem like a sequel set in the same universe as the original and not necessarily a direct remake.”  (Thank you, Dan)  And he’s right. 

The gore.  Oh, wait, what?  I already mentioned this before?  Well, it should be mentioned again, dammit!  Absolutely wonderful.

So, is this worth going to see?  Yes, yes it is.  Is it better than the original?  Uh, no.  It’s hard to be better than a seminal film.  It is meaner than the original but it doesn’t have that something (Bruce Campbell) to set it apart.  In the end, this Evil Dead remake is like a really good cover version of a song you grew up loving:  they get it right, and it’s worth hearing a couple of times, but in the end, you’ll break out the original on vinyl, crank it up, and relive its awesomeness.


Bonus Pretentious Interpretation!

The Evil Dead remake is an allegorical tale of the struggle of a junkie trying to get clean.  They turn into an absolute monster, are ostracized from their family and friends even as they try and divide their loved ones, they utterly destroy those closest to them, go through a living hell of barbaric, bloody proportions, but finally come clean in the end, washed in the blood of their sacrifices, standing on the precipice of a literal new dawn (minus a left hand, of course).

You’re welcome.