July 28, 2013

Second Thoughts After Seeing The Evil Dead Remake

[Posted by Ted H]

This is a 3 part mini-series...part 1 was what I thought right after seeing the movie...this part is what I thought after letting it all sink in for about a week....The finale is next week where I wrap everything up in a broad sense...
You may be wondering why I deem it necessary to talk about this movie when I've got stories to write, but the Sam Raimi Evil Deads are a huge inspiration to me, and any variant (good, bad or otherwise) would have garnered a response out of me.

I'm gonna point this out right now: overall, I loved Evil Dead (2013)...just not nearly as much as any of the other Evil Deads. For every negative thing I have to say about the remake, there are three things I didn't say that were outstanding.


As far as I am concerned with movies, there are two types of remakes: one is where you faithfully recreate the original film with updated themes and technology...another is where you take the basic layout, and change the entire direction. Both are valid.

Night of the Living Dead is an example of the former. The Romero and Savini variants both have the same characters involved, same set up and plot points. It tapered off at the end and I could write an essay over how that worked and didn't work, but for the sake of time, I'll move on. The 1990 version made no subtleties over their movie. "We're taking the same people and the same plot and updating the hell out of it. We may change a few things (this is a remake, not a retelling) but essentially it's like the first.

Dawn of the Dead is an example of the latter. Romeros version had 4 people in a mall dealing with life in the zombie apocalypse. How they dealt with the dead, each other and other living people is what drove the plot. Snyders version had about a dozen or so people in a mall. Sure there were characters that seemed like they were recasts (Peter-Kenneth...Francine-Anna...Roger-CJ...Stephen-Michael) the movie made sure to point out they were NOT the same people...then tacked on a bunch of other people, changed locations and had radically different themes and endings.

Both ideas are valid. Now enter the Evil Dead remake. Which type of remake was it trying to be? Trick question, it tried to be both. It ended up being at odds with its own identity and fell over from over ambition. It went out of its way to be both a retread of the Sam Raimi classic, and stand on its own merits.

The problem is, it seemed to lock itself into a retelling from the get-go. If you didn't want to come off as a retelling, then why does it star five people incredibly similar to the five people in the original. From that starting point, it seems to be a retelling (with a little deviation here and there but it's all good) and the times it references aspects from the original are high points in the movie, but everything original to a certain point are solid on their own as well.

...then Scott decides to try burning the book. In the original, Ash won out in the end (kinda) by burning the book...it lasted all of two minutes before he was attacked, but all the crazy shit (minus the big bad) was stopped by burning the book...in the remake, Scott tries burning the book only to find the book doesn't burn and the crazy shit carries on undeterred. From there the movie puts its foot down and states that it is a different telling. It is not going to be like the original...and it does stick to that script for a while. The Linda character is attacked and ultimately dispatched in different fashion...but not before her hand (sorta) gets possessed and she cuts it off...so now we're referencing the high points of 2 Evil Dead movies? If her severed hand came to life and did shit on its own, I'm pretty sure I would've taken the DVD out and tossed it out my window though.

While referencing the original Evil Dead were high points in this movie, as we roll into the end, referencing the original was also accounting for the low points as well. I was honestly tired of this version running back to the well for nostalgia to help it stand on its own. It got to the point where it wanted to stand on its own merits, but it couldn't do that well without help from the original.


Don't get me wrong, similarities and differences aside, I was having a fucking blast up until Ash decided to bury his sister alive and unpossess her. It wasn't until it started raining blood that I was getting pissed. I would still recommend this movie because it's one of the best horror movies of the last few years, but the ending is jarringly and profoundly inane.

Kinda like how the best Mass Effect 3 ending is to turn off your game after Anderson dies...the best ending to this movie is to turn off the movie once Ash blows up the cabin.

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