When remaking a cult horror classic, you'd better stick close to the source material while still providing enough new material to keep that fan base from running you out of town with torches and pitchforks. Does Evil Dead manage to succeed or does it fall flat on it's face? Spoilers throughout. You've been warned.
This one may be a cheat for the Revisiting Remakes series. I'm not convinced it's actually a remake. It was sold as one and kind of acts like one, but it feels like it could be a sequel that just happens to take place 30 years later. Spoiler alert! Sam Raimi's Delta '88 that was featured heavily in the original series (and makes an appearance in all of his films) is in the back yard of the cabin in pretty bad shape. It looks like it's been sitting there for years. Now, that could just be a little wink to the fans but then at the very end, someone with a very famous chin turns to the camera and from out of nowhere says his classic catch phrase. I'm of the mind that it's actually a sequel to the original trilogy but since it was sold and promoted as a remake, that's how we'll handle it.
This version of the film has a plot that's identical to the original version. It's obviously updated and details are changed around, but the general story is that a group of young people come to a cabin in the woods and mess around with a strange book before some crazy shit starts happening. This time however, there's an actual reason why they've assembled out in the middle of nowhere. It's to help Miya kick her heroin addiction. This reason actually helps to explain why they don't bail out on the first sign of strange things going on. They attribute it to Miya's addiction. Eventually after they're all possessed, they realize what's going on.
Just like in the original, you have one member of the group obsessed with the book and unknowingly unleashes the spirits. Then you have them being possessed one by one and attacking their friends until there's no one left. This version lifts all the major parts of the original with the sister rattling the basement chains, the necklace, the "tree scene," the bodily dismemberments, and the force going through the woods.
While the original still holds a special place in history for it's over the top gore effects, the 2013 version is gorier. It's a more realistic and grounded gore where the original was comic book style absurdity. Each has it's place, but with it's reliance on practical effects, the remake honors the traditions of the original while still upping the ante. There are some genuinely brutal kills and scenes that make you squirm in your seat.
One thing I really like is that it completely flips the script on who you think is the main protagonist. You've got David (complete in Ash like blue shirt) here in the cabin to help his drug addicted sister kick her habit. The entire time he's built up as this version's Ash Williams. Until he dies. Then his sister Miya (who somehow comes back from the dead...don't ask me how) takes over and ends the curse. I do like that they didn't try to have another Ash. There is only one Ash. His name is Bruce Campbell. To have another attempt that character would have been a complete injustice. I appreciate that they managed to make the film work without what was arguably the most important part of the original trilogy. It's also one of the reasons why I still contend that it was a sequel.
It's also produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. It's very clear that a lot of respect was held for the original franchise was honored. Most importantly, this feels like an Evil Dead movie.
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