Twitter Plot Summary: The Necronomicon is rebooted as a fresh batch of youngsters are assaulted by pure evil in a cabin in the woods.
Five Point Summary:
1. Intervention: underway.
2. Tree rape. Necessary? Nah.
3. Chekhov’s Gun is in attendance!
4. “Why won’t you die?!”
5. Slayer must be nearby – it’s raining blood!
If you ever wanted a perfect example of a film that demonstrates Chekhov’s Gun – that is, put simply, if something is introduced in the script then it must be used before the end of the film – then look no further than the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. Literally every object that features in this script, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, gets used with murderous intent.
The original Evil Dead was one of the lucky few that were banned as a “video nasty” in the 1980s, gaining notoriety and fame as a result. Its story, where a group of teens encounter an evil presence whilst stopping in a cabin in the woods, and they have to do what they can to survive. This remake has a great idea at its core, whereby the group of attractive young people have gone to the cabin to stage an intervention and help one of them, Mia (Levy), go cold turkey after her drug addiction results in her almost dying. Of course it’s then as a result of their own stupidity that the evil is unleashed and things soon fall apart. Before you can say “Necronomicon” people are dying, being possessed and making the most of the aforementioned notion of Chekhov’s Gun.
Jane Levy’s Mia, replacing the franchise’s hero Ash in the central role, is run through the wringer and then some. If Bruce Campbell thought he had it bad under Sam Raimi’s direction, then he’s got nothin to complain about when compared against the trials Fede Alvarez put Jane Levy through on this production. She’s soaked in rain water beaten up, crushed, attacked and soaked some more in various bodily fluids for good measure.
It follows the usual template of the five characters having barely sketched out personalities in the first instance, existing solely to be ripped apart, stabbed and shot at various intervals. Suffice to say it’s not actually necessary for them to have any discerning personalities because they’re clearly not going to survive long enough for it to matter.
Fans of the original are serviced by a number of subtle – and occasionally less than subtle – references to the original, other than the obvious ones like the setting and the Necronomicon. It’s the points where it diverges from the original where it really wins out, the violence is graphic almost to the point of obscenity, seemingly attempting to outdo the original by whatever means necessary.
By the finale you’ll either be running screaming for the exit or roaring in laughter depending on your disposition. The tone is so nihilistic and violent that you either have to find it amusing or cave in to the violence and admit it’s just a bit too much. There are a couple of missteps – the tree rape scene in particular hasn’t been cut from the original and only seems to exist for shock horror value only – but otherwise Fede Alvarez has reinvigorated a horror franchise that, for better or for worse, had taken a turn towards the comedic and moved away from its horror roots. However the franchise proceeds from here, it’s received a much needed kick in the tool shed and you get the impression that any sequel will probably much more violent, just because it can be.