In 1981, Sam Raimi burst onto the feature film scene with a film that would go on to spawn two sequels (kind of), a remake, and a television series. Evil Dead was a masterclass on special effects and special effects makeup, and the remake carried this on.
The original Evil Dead follows Ashley “Ash” Williams, his girlfriend Linda, his sister Cheryl, their friend Scott and his girlfriend Shelly, on a getaway to a cabin in the woods. It bears mentioning that they go to the creepiest looking cabin imaginable, and how they didn’t think something bad would happen is beyond me. Of course, they probably were not planning on finding a book bound in human flesh that would summon Deadites and destroy everybody. And that, my friend, is the rest of the film. Rather quickly, all of Ash’s friends become possessed and he has to dismember each one. Poor guy.
The 2013 remake Evil Dead sticks closely to this same plot. A group of friends go to a cabin in the woods. However, this time it is to help Mia kick her nasty drug habit. Rather quickly, though, once Eric reads from the Naturom Demonto, the book that is found in the basement, his friends start to die rather quickly. Mia becomes possessed, and her brother David comes up with a way to beat the system: he needs to kill his sister, but then he brings her back to life with a makeshift defibrillator. This is where we really start to veer from the original film, as Mia comes back to life, and David sacrifices himself. Mia is the Final Girl. After experiencing unspeakable pain, Mia has ended everything. Or so she thinks.
As far as remakes go, this one is not bad. I don’t know if you would consider this the first or second remake because, if we are being technical, isn’t Evil Dead II more of a remake than a sequel? Either way, the 2013 Evil Dead is definitely not the worst remake I have ever watched. I think that the film benefits from being a quasi-sequel. If you know anything about the Evil Dead series, then you know that this film takes place at the same time as Ash vs. the Evil Dead. The idea that it could have been either that guy Eric that summoned the Deadites, or Ash Williams did it while showing off for a woman is hilarious to me.
Both films make great use of practical effects. The stop motion deterioration from the 1981 version never ceases to amaze me. And, the fact that the makers of the 2013 film decided to still use practical effects and special effects makeup is so wonderful, especially because we are in a time when horror films seem to really rely on CGI.
The way that the remake pays homage to the original is wonderful. We see Ash’s car outside the cabin in the beginning, and Mia even ends up with a chainsaw arm (even though this is technically from Evil Dead II). You can tell that the remake is coming from a place of deep love, and that’s honestly how all remakes should be.
Could have done without the rape tree in both, but that’s just me.