Evil Dead was better in the ’80s

The latest remake of a beloved horror classic is out. Yawn.

Evil Dead follows a similar plot to 1981’s The Evil Dead — five teenagers go to an isolated cabin and find the Necronomicon. A character says something about demonic possession, and then the director breaks out the fire hydrants of fake blood and turns them all on at once. The minutia doesn’t really matter.

Evil Dead’s big, glaring issue is it’s boring. The series has always been much more about gore than suspense, but basically every scary scene is preceded by 10-15 seconds of tension-building despite the fact that anyone who’s even vaguely genre savvy knows what’s about to happen. This movie is a highway to splatter-gore, and it was never going to surprise anyone along the way. Attempts to do so only amount to wasted time.

There really isn’t a scene where this atmosphere of feaux-tension is present, and that’s kind of sad because the plot was good and deserved attention. Instead of a group of college kids headed to a cabin just because the plot required it, this film is about Mia’s (Jane Levy) heroine withdrawal. She’s there with her friends (Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas), brother (Shiloh Fernandez) and brother’s girlfriend (Elizabeth Blackmore) to quit cold turkey, and no one is allowed to leave until she’s better. So, when she starts doing her best Exorcist impression, everyone thinks it’s the withdrawal.

Evil Dead  sets itself up to add new meaning to the classic tale by making it a fantasy about the trials of withdrawal instead of just a scary movie. However, it’s kind of a red herring. The film starts with this thread, abandons it for the main body of the film and then picks it up for the closing act. It’s not done completely, but it’s more enjoyable and touching if you can think about it as about withdrawal.

It’s hard to see why Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tapert signed on to produce this. The fact that the writer/director, star and producer of the classic series were involved was a source of excitement and speculation that this might not be just another remake, but the fact of the matter is that’s all Evil Dead is.

There’s a half-hazard withdrawal storyline and it’s a little prettier, but I can’t see a reason for this to be here when the original is still so culturally relevant.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a staff writer for the NT Daily. He has a paralytic phobia of ducks. For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at reelentropy@gmail.com. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for. Be sure to come back next week for a review of 42.

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