Famously and undeniably campy, Sam Raimi’s original 1981 cult classic was – just barely – a bit more of a straightforward if comically over-the-top horror yarn than that of its sequels. Made on a shoestring budget, Raimi had to rely almost solely on practical effects to achieve the gross-out-heavy visceral panache the film is known for – something Fede Alvarez notably recreated throughout the production of this year’s remake. A bit too self-serious for the film’s gleefully absurd origins, Evil Dead isn’t at all as terrifying as we were led to believe it’d be, however its ability to harness and run away with an altogether competent if exceedingly grim tonal consistency is admirable in its own right.
Early on and throughout, the revamped script sports a discernible lack of blunt homage and genuine scares while it partially compensates with apt-ish characterization, a requisite amount of tense build-up and – of course – gore galore. The characters’ oft-discussed ignorance/stupidity aside, this remake was conceived to deliver the thrills suggested by balls-out marketing and a determined batch of filmmakers which, like I said, Evil Dead infrequently delivers. Maintaining dark if sometimes awkwardly contrived dramatic highs here and there, I found it easier to appreciate this and the film’s technical merits over cheap attempts to make the audience jump out of their skin.
Plainly put, Evil Dead is an exceedingly dark reimagination of Sam Raimi’s 1981 low-budget gorefest. It’s not particularly terrifying in any capacity, however the film as a whole is an unmistakably valuable contribution to a continually floundering genre. The practical effects are expertly implemented – achieving their desired effect with ease as the shocks keep building in intensity until a questionable final act twist is half-heartedly executed. This aside, and despite it being an overly hyped rehash, Evil Dead possesses enough stand-alone creative flair to warrant a genuine liking toward it, even if genre thrills take a backseat to its overbearing yet likable grim intensity and silly human caricatures.