Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy holds a special place in my heart, especially Evil Dead II which I could watch over and over without tiring of it. My first reaction to the news that Evil Dead was going to be remade was one of outrage; there was no way I wanted my beloved movie tampered with and made into some lame and tired modernized version. Once I learned that Raimi and Bruce Campbell not only gave the remake their blessing, but would be producing it, I began to get a bit more excited about the new film. Director Fede Alvarez, who doesn’t have much of a resume when it comes to film, took the lead on this remake by both directing it and writing the screenplay.
[SPOILERS AHEAD] Evil Dead opens with a frightened girl running through the woods in an attempt to escape a pair of grungy rednecks who are in close pursuit. She is quickly captured and tied to a wooden post in an old basement. There are dead cats hanging from barbed wire all around the dingy dark room. The girl is terrified and pleads with her father to save her as an old woman reads from an ancient book. We learn that she is possessed and her soul must be saved by burning her to death, cleansing her spirit. At first she seems innocent, but the demon inside is quickly revealed moments before her father sets her aflame.
The story focuses on Mia (Jane Levy), a young girl who is trying to overcome her drug addiction with the help of her friends. Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is able to provide the medical care that Mia would receive in any hospital, while Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) are along for moral support. They decide to go to Mia and David’s family owned cabin which has been uninhabited long enough to become filthy and invaded by outsiders. There is obvious tension between David and the rest of the group, but everyone is focused on Mia’s health and begin to work to clean the cabin and prepare for Mia’s withdrawal.
Mia is soon incredibly disturbed by a horrific smell which is invading the living spaces of the cabin. Not wanting to give Mia a reason to flee and relapse, the group investigates the terrible smell which leads them to the basement. Everyone is disgusted to discover that the smell is coming from decaying animals hanging from the ceiling, fearing that intruders were performing witchcraft. Eric discovers a book wrapped in a trash bag and bound by barbed wire, the Naturom Demonto, and naturally brings it and the discovered rifle upstairs. As curiosity gets the better of him, Eric reads an incantation from the book that releases the evil.
Mia is the evil’s first target; she begins to see a pale yellow-eyed girl in the woods as she attempts to deal with her withdrawal symptoms. Assuming that she is hallucinating, Mia tries to flee the cabin and return to civilization and to her drugs. Unfortunately for her, the evil has no intentions of allowing her to leave and causes her to crash her car into a shallow pond, rendering it useless. As she tries to flee on food, the remake gives a great nod to the original and has Mia raped by possessed tree branches, which allows the evil to invade her body.
Mia quickly returns to the cabin and tries to warn her brother and the others about the evil in the woods. Assuming that this is just a part of her withdrawal or that Mia simply wants to leave and get drugs, her friends urge her to take a nice shower and relax. As Mia stands under the scalding water, David discovers that the family dog has been killed with a hammer. He mourns the loss, holding the deceased pet close, before realizing that Mia must have done this to the poor pup. Bursting into the bathroom to confront her, David and the group find Mia burning the skin right off of her body with the dangerously hot water. The dog is forgotten as the group begins to panic and Olivia tends to Mia’s wounds. It is at this point that Eric begins to worry; there is an image in the ancient book that matches Mia’s actions and suggested demonic activity.
An attempt to take Mia to a hospital is quickly put to a halt due to flooded roads, so the group has no other option other than holding out until the rain subsides. It is at this point that Mia shows the first true signs of the possession, grabbing the rifle and warning the group in a creepy deep voice that they will all die before the night is over. Olivia tries to relieve Mia of the weapon, only to be rewarded with a huge waterfall of bloody vomit, another nice nod to the original. The struggle between the girls results in Mia falling into the cellar where she is locked in. Terrified, Olivia retreats to the bathroom in search of more sedatives to calm Mia with. Eric soon discovers Olivia has also become possessed; she is hunched over in the bathroom and cutting chunks of her face off with a broken piece of mirror, something that is also in the ancient book. Olivia attacks but Eric is able to fight her off and crush her skull. But just barely.
David quickly comes to Eric’s aid, using duct tape from the shed to close his wounds. He sends Natalie back into the cabin to fetch some water for Eric. As she struggles to steady her hands, Mia’s soft and frightened voice comes from the cellar door, pleading to be set free. Natalie foolishly believes that Mia is now okay and retreats into the cellar to assist her friend. Her kindness is rewarded by a bite on the hand followed by bloody kisses after Mia butterflies her tongue with a box cutter. Natalie is able to escape and lock her friend away, but her hand begins to become possessed. At this point, I’m bouncing around in my seat, but the film unfortunately didn’t choose to focus too much on this; Natalie quickly cuts the arm off with an electric knife before the hand has a chance to harm her. My hopes for a dismembered hand scurrying around the cabin also went unfulfilled; the arm is chopped off and that is the end of it.
Natalie’s efforts to save herself were for nothing, as she becomes possessed anyway and attacks Eric and David with a nail gun, but only after giving herself some amazing facial piercings. The two men are punctured but able to kill Natalie before she can kill them. Eric then tells David that the evil must feast on five souls in order to cross over into our world; this can only be stopped by cleansing Mia’s soul by fire, live burial or dismemberment. Unable to stomach lighting his sister on fire, David decides to bury her. The demon inside Mia wants none of this, attacking the men and killing Eric. Thankfully David is able to subdue Mia, bury her until her heart stops, then dig her up and quickly restart her heart with a makeshift defibrillator. The siblings hug, assuming the evil is gone. As they prepare to leave, a possessed Eric attacks, leaving David with no choice but to sacrifice himself in order to save his sister. The two men burn alive in the cabin as Mia weeps outside.
I had initially expected David to be the Bruce Campbell of this movie. The sole survivor who lost it all, was battered and bloody, but not beaten. Instead, he is on fire while his addict sister weeps outside. As I was busy being annoyed at this ending, blood begins to rain down on Mia as a demon starts to crawl out of the ground in pursuit of another soul. The demon gives chase and Mia manages to evade it, at one point going into the walls of the cabin and mimicking scenes from Evil Dead I and II. Mia gets a hold of a chainsaw to defend herself with, which doesn’t help her at all when the demon nearly crushes her with a jeep, crushing only her hand instead. Mia is forced to rip her crushed hand from her body before jamming the stump through the chainsaw handle, dismembering the demon, and sending it back to hell.
If you sit through the credits, and you should, you’ll be able to hear audio from the original film from Professor Raymond Knowby as he discusses the ancient book and the demons that are coming for him. At the very end, as the credits roll to a close, we finally see Bruce Campbell’s profile in the shadows. He turns to the camera, his face lighting, and says “Groovy.” The end. I had heard that Campbell didn’t want to intrude on the new film by having an actual cameo, so I was glad to at least see him at the end.
Overall, I love parts of this remake and hate others; there is no middle ground. I was very let down that the possessed hand never reached its full potential, the blood covered light bulb failed to make an appearance, the furniture didn’t show signs of life, and that the buried Mia didn’t pop out of the ground and dance away into the woods. The remake definitely needed to find its own voice and be original, but I feel that they cut too much out and didn’t pay the proper respects to the original. On the positive side, Olivia’s face removal was horrifying, the nail gun scene after Natalie removed her arm was fantastic, and I thought the addiction to rehabilitation story was a good way to modernize the tale.
I will definitely be buying this movie on DVD and watching it a few more times, so I think if you’re a fan of the originals, you’ll get into this movie as well. It has room for improvement, but it did a nice job or recreating the world of the Evil Dead. I’m hoping that the DVD gives us an extended version, as there were some parts in the previews that did not make the final cut. The new version may have missed a few steps and left out the bleeding walls, but they earned some brownie points back with the horrific injuries and the overall creepy feel. Save your soul and give it a watch!
Posted on April 9, 2013, in TV/Movies and tagged bruce campbell, demon, elizabeth blackmore, evil dead, fede alvarez, jane levy, jessica lucas, lou taylor pucci, possession, sam raimi, shiloh fernandez, soul, voodoo, witchcraft. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.