First and foremost: This will contain spoilers as I am about to discuss a 'new' film that is currently out. So bear that in mind!
Alright....The simplest way to put this is that while the vision behind this new remake of 'Evil Dead' is indeed intense and often unrelenting, it's just not a vision I agree with...Though with that being said I do feel like this is probably the best one could expect from a modern day remake, but still...It left me grumbling inside a bit. Of course I had high expectations, as most early reviews and press have been saying that this truly was incredible, and in some ways, such writings were correct. The graphicness and absolutely intense and realistic gore in this film is incredible, and I greatly appreciate how almost all of it is indeed practical effects. An Evil Dead movie full of CGI blood and gore would be an abomination for sure, and the filmmakers were wise to keep it old school as much as possible in terms of their effects. However other aspects were approached from a more modern day standpoint and it is this that I think unfortunately deflates the film, at least for me.
The original 'Evil Dead' is such a singular and fantastic creation of its specific time and that's one of the large reasons why it's so well loved even now. Many fans don't just love 'Evil Dead,' they love the ridiculous backstory of how it got made at all and watching it brings those viewers back into that time and it's harrowing creation. Plus when one knows how low budget and scraped together the film was, the audacity of just what they were able to do becomes amazing. Camera's flying full speed through a forest and breaking through windows during an utterly-low budget film shot in 1979 (released 81) is IMPRESSIVE. However a camera flying full speed through a forest during a large budgeted horror film in 2013 (and which never even break any windows or truly enter the cabin) is just not at all impressive! It is inevitable that they recreate specific iconography like this, because, well, they HAD TO, but it just doesn't have the manic power of the original and I feel like the filmmakers sort of knew this...And thus did cut back on it a bit...
Now one thing the new filmmakers did which was wise was that they didn't even try to create a new Ash character. Instead of trying and opening themselves up for the nonstop comparisons that would have followed a new Ash they just didn't do it. Which is good I suppose, but then again, an 'Evil Dead' film without Ash is sort of like a Jurassic Park film with dinosaurs. A huge part of the fun of the original film is watching poor Bruce Campbell get so ridiculously beat up and barely survive...and then over two more films grow into a ridiculous action hero. And don't get me started on the post credits 'cameo' bit in the new film...To me it just felt like such heavy fan pandering and even though it made the audience I was seeing the film with burst into applause it just made me roll my eyes.
But enough with the comparisons to the Original....I could go on all day about them but instead I feel I should focus on the changes in this version that just left me unsettled (and not in a good way). When I first read that the new conceit had a group of college kids going to the cabin to help one of them kick her drug habit I thought 'ah that's Clever!' If the drug addled girl starts seeing the demons first than the others would certainly not believe her as much at first. That could be really intriguing and lead to great moments. However stuff goes so crazy so fast that when the others disbelieve her it seems silly and forced. Plus the film opens with a prologue showing a prior girl getting burned alive in the basement because she was possessed. So by immediately showing that there were indeed demons, any suspicion is removed. Not that there would truly be suspicion, as this is an EVIL DEAD movie, but it could have been fun to play with perception a little.
This leads me to what I found most frustrating of all: This seemingly pointless prologue comes back in full force as the way the demonic force is seen by the main drug addled girl is in the form of the previous dead girl. And so the demonic deadite force just' shows up repeatedly as a long dark haired skinny ghost girl....And that is such a stereotypical visual out of, oh, I don't know, every single Japanese horror film of the last, hmhm, decade? Deadite demons should be APESHIT CRAZY LOOKING (Think of the stop motion spirits as seen in the beginning of Evil Dead II, or of the giant full demon when made flesh at that film's end!)! They should not look like rejects from 'The Grudge.'
The inherent power of the terrible craziness of evil dead is lost when the Deadites are just jump cut scare ghost girls with long wet hair! The ghost girl even appears in this film's diluted tree rape scene (what a weird sentence to write that is). Instead of the godawful brutality of the original film's attack...In this one the ghost girl lets the vine ooze out of her mouth and onto the other girl's leg and then up into her. It is almost as if the film is nervously saying "See? Since it's from one girl to another...it's not so awful, right? Right? We can get this past the MPAA this way, right?" It's still really gross and vile, don't get me wrong, but there's no shock to it for you can almost feel the desperation of the filmmakers in trying to somehow one up the original...
Now, to Continue with my rant on how modern day horror film tropes have diluted the evil out of evil dead I shall harp on the look of the possessed human's themselves: They all end up just looking like boil covered zombie people...Unlike in the original where each person ended up looking rather different when possessed. In this one they all just look like realistic zombies I suppose, as opposed to really strange looking messed up freaks. And I miss that!
Since it's the modern age there is no tape recorder as in the first film...So instead of the kids clicking play and then hearing the professor's voice recite the passages that awake the demons, now one of the kids has to actively SPEAK THE WORDS OUT LOUD. And speak them out loud from the book, while staring at its terrifying and blood soaked pages. Are you kidding me? I can believe in demons and monsters within a horror film, but it's very hard to believe someone would see a bloody book bound in human skin and then think 'ah yes, reading aloud from this is a brilliant idea!' Ah!
But enough is enough. I literally could go on forever about this, but I will cut myself short (much like many of the characters in the film cut themselves short...when they cut off their arms or legs or such ((Remember I did say the gore was awesome!)).