Director Sam Raimi made the original “The Evil Dead,” released in 1981, for a budget of $350,000. It was the beginning of a successful career for him, star Bruce Campbell and producer Rob Tapert.
The film was essentially re-made in 1987 with a heavier emphasis on the comedy with “Evil Dead 2.” A bigger budget sequel, “Army of Darkness,” followed in 1992.
Sam Raimi went on to huge success with the “Spider-Man” series, starring Tobey Maguire. Now, 32 years after the original film, Raimi is producing a remake to that first, shoestring-budget movie.
This year's remake, “Evil Dead,” directed by Fede Alvarez, re-creates the same basic story with some twists. It's got a bigger budget to work with, but lacks the original's charm.
While in the original, Bruce Campbell's Ash and his college friends were on vacation in the woods, in the new version it's for a more intense reason.
Mia (Jane Levy) is trying to kick her drug addiction. She's joined by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Also there to help are a couple of Mia's longtime friends, Olivia (Jessica Lucas), who is a nurse; and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci).
They plan to hole up in a secluded cabin until Mia's through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, something they anticipate will take a few days. But something far worse lurks.
When Eric discovers a Book of the Dead in the basement to the cabin, he unwittingly uses it to summon an evil spirit from the nearby woods. The spirit possesses the young people, who must fight for their survival.
Longtime fans of the franchise will notice subtle homages to the original film throughout.
The film relies much more heavily on practical effects than computer-generated imagery, something of a novelty in 2013. Unfortunately, however, while the original “The Evil Dead” staked out new territory for the horror genre, the remake, perhaps inevitably, has a been-there, done-that feel.
Like many horror films, the characters must make increasingly stupid decisions to drag themselves into deeper and deeper jeopardy.
And despite the involvement of writer Diablo Cody (“Juno”), the internal logic of the film doesn't entirely hold together. It's a competently done remake that fans of the original will likely appreciate, though the over-the-top gore and violence will likely be too much for the uninitiated.
— Matthew Price