The Son of Sam has returned, and his name is Fede Alvarez. Based on the 1981 Cult Classic The Evil Dead directed by Sam Raimi (Wizard of Oz), the newest incarnation Evil Dead released this friday isn’t a remake as many have thought, but rather an intended sequel with A LOT of fan service to the original. Evil Dead still finds a familiar cast of young 20-somethings in a familiar cabin where an evil is released and one by one everyone dies brutal, gory deaths in a film that is relentless from beginning to end.
Made with the blessings of director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, and producer Robert Tapert, who all served as executive producers for the original film, Evil Dead is a faithful return to Raimi’s world made by dedicated fan and new director Fede Alvarez. So faithfully in fact that Alvarez went to great lengths to make almost every special effect real like its predecessor, leaving CGI only for touch ups. This made for a long and grueling film schedule that included burying lead actress Jane Levy (Mia) in the ground with a bag around her head. Such painstaking attention to detail is an example of why this film is so good for fans new and old.
The story, written by Alvarez and Diablo Cody (United States of Tara, Juno), isn’t new and has become cliche since 81’s The Evil Dead. Contrary to the original, the story is more flushed out with Mia, her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) taking an extended trip to her family’s long forgotten cabin to allow Mia time to detox after a near-death overdose. This gives the other characters plausible deniablity once Mia starts complaining of evil things in the forest. After the Necronomicon unleashes hell on them all, a blood bath ensues as each character is possessed and killed in the most horrific ways.
Speaking as a long time fan of the Franchise, the new Evil Dead is a fun and gruesome update to a beloved movie. The easter eggs alone are well worth it for any fan and definitely re-watchable. It’s this kind of love and devotion to the source material that makes the intended sequels all the more exciting. While at WonderCon last weekend Alvarez was asked about the possibility of uniting the two timelines:
“The whole point, and my dream as a fan, is to make a sequel to this film while Sam is making Army of Darkness 2 and then to connect the two together into one epic film… That would be my dream come true,”
Just the thought of seeing Bruce Campbell as Ash again is exciting enough. Although nothing has been put into motion, it’s still fun to dream.
Evil Dead is everything you could want in a remake or sequel. But the shinning star here is the use of special effects. Practical effects always make a difference when it comes to gore. Second to that is the care taken in revisiting the world of the Necromonicon, but even those fresh to the franchise will be pleased as long as they’re a fan of horror, or at least watching people squirm in their seat.
P.S. Stay after the credits for a special treat.