Spoilers contained herein, you are warned.
Ok, so I’ve seen the remake. I wanted to like it. I really, really did. It’s Evil Dead. I love Evil Dead. So why did I not like this movie? Why did I leave feeling let down?
It certainly wasn’t the effects, which are gory, over the top and definitely in keeping with the original’s oceans of arterial spray. It wasn’t the story, which is similar to the original with a group of friends going to a cabin in the woods for a weekend. It certainly wasn’t the little elements that were throwbacks to the original, such as the “tree rape”, the invisible force running through the woods, the rusted out car, even keeping the book named the same (even though we all know it’s the Necronomicon). And the chainsaw…and the…well, you get the idea.
No, the movie was just lacking something that has always made Evil Dead the kind of movie you can just pop in and enjoy any time. The movie is lacking charm.
Charm is a hard thing to quantify. The original movie had it because of the low budget, the genius of the director, and the powerful jaw-line of the leading man. Let’s focus in on that last one. I had heard this movie didn’t have an Ash, or that there was a female Ash, but it wasn’t Ash exactly. Well, that was correct. None of the characters was Ash. None of them had a tenth of his charm. And a big chunk of the movie seemed to be the plot trying to decide who was going to be the Ash in this film. First the brother is the protagonist, and then for a short time you think it might be his girlfriend, and then it’s the sister…but none of them are Ash.
So does there have to be an Ash? No, not really. But there does have to be a hero. See, Evil Dead is not a horror film about a bunch of victims. That’s Halloween or Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but Evil Dead is a story about a transformation from man to superman, from victim to hero. Ash begins as a normal guy, but by the end of the movie, and certainly in the sequels, he becomes a true hero (albeit a bumbling one). It’s not dissimilar to Aliens – Ripley starts as a victim and becomes a hero, and that’s why Aliens is a great movie and its followups were all horrible.
The movie also lacked just about any humor at all. I chuckled a tiny bit during the “deadite lesbian scene”, but it clearly wasn’t meant to be funny. There could have been humor in the movie, and there SHOULD have been considering the source, but it was deadpan all the way through. And here’s where we come to the inevitable conclusion and comparison that I had hoped wouldn’t need to be made, but clearly does:
Cabin in the Woods is a better Evil Dead remake than this.
Why? Cabin in the Woods had charm. It had humor, but was still serious. It had a victim become a hero. It has practically the same premise (and it should…that was the point of Cabin in the Woods), and pulled off the story ten times better than the Evil Dead remake. Cabin in the Woods had an Ash.
In the end, I think this film will not be well remembered, and deservedly so. It simply isn’t Evil Dead. Here’s to hoping Raimi and Campbell can pull off the rumored Army of Darkness II.
P.S., for those who have seen the remake, who in the hell was the girl supposed to be? I mean, seriously…who was it? It didn’t make any sense to show this big imposing guy in the Necronomicon and then have the big bad be a woman who looks like she needs to eat a sammich or two before the wind blows her away. This is just one of those things that logically didn’t make sense to me, and I think it jarred me almost as much as the lack of humor and charm did. I had no reason to care, whatsoever, who that witch was.