When it comes to contemporary remakes of legendary films, the critical consensus usually leans toward disgruntled eye-rolling. However, with the 2013 reboot of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic “The Evil Dead,” the filmmakers managed to surpass the original on several impressive fronts: It ended up being gorier, grislier, and far more bleak. Though the film’s plot remains essentially the same — five twenty-somethings stay in a remote cabin, which happens to hosts an ancient book in the cellar which will cause the group to become possessed and killed by a demonic entity — it boasts more explicit scares and feels solidly akin to the New French Extremity movement.
“Evil Dead” proved to be so disturbing that during the film’s world premiere at SXSW, one of /Film’s very own writers witnessed numerous audience members walking out of the theater, scurrying to the lobby out of nausea and disgust. Honestly, this kind of reaction is phenomenal for horror filmmakers, who aim to provoke incredibly visceral reactions from viewers. In fact, Bruce Campbell — who played Ash in “The Evil Dead” and co-produced the 2013 reboot — stated in an interview with Hollywood.com ahead of the film’s release: “Hopefully we’ll have a few walkouts. That’s the sign of a good horror movie.” As it turns out, Campbell’s hope morphed into a tangible reality.
Who knows what could have irked people about the film so much. Surely it wasn’t the copious amount of severed limbs, nor the black bile of indeterminate origin which is projectile vomited in order to signify a person’s possession. Let’s not even bring up the possibility of it being glass shards jaggedly cutting through the soft facial tissue of cheek and tongue — that’s just horror for babies! In all seriousness, “Evil Dead” giddily revels in one-upping the original in every conceivable way, with escalated scares being a vital part of the remake’s DNA. Not only was the film made for the die-hard fans of the original film, but also as a concerted effort to freak the freaks out. One of the better twenty-first century horror remakes, “Evil Dead” rests (un)easily among its arguably sub-par competition. (Natalia Keogan)