Whether discussing books, film, or music, there is one clear, unanswerable debate: Which is better, the original, or the remake? In the case of the Evil Dead movies, however, the original cannot hold a candle to the remake. Granted, the original movie, The Evil Dead came out in 1981, an era where CGI and special computer effects were virtually nonexistent. The graphics were cheesy, and the blood and guts were entirely too hilarious to be remotely gruesome. However, all of the gory details aside, the remake was, as a whole, a far better story.
The original movie was far too intent on throwing as much blood into the 85 minute movie to construct even a semblance of a plot. By the time I finished watching the movie, I felt like I had listened to someone retell the plot of a bad movie that they paid minimal attention to. Of the five characters, I only remembered the name Ash, Bruce Campbell’s character. I suppose as a “slasher” film, it was alright. If I was watching it for the sole purpose of some good old fashioned 80’s horror, I would have been satiated.
However, I wanted to watch a movie with a plot. In this regard, the remake, which clocked in at 91 minutes, destroyed the original. Where the original opened with the five friends arriving at the cabin for their getaway, the remake opened with a flashback that served to clarify a lot of what confused me in the original. The original failed entirely to introduce the characters as well as give me any reason to care about what happened to these people. The remake, on the other hand, introduces the main character, Mia (Jane Levy), as a struggling-to-recover heroin addict who is aided in her endeavor by her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and Mia’s friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and Olivia (Jessica Lucas). Throughout the film we learn the nature of these relationships, both where they’re strained and where they’ve been mended. This alone attracted me to the remake infinitely more than the original. There were also small changes that I liked as well. In the original, a set of old tapes summon the demons that possess Cheryl, but in the remake, the demons that possess Mia are released by a book from which Eric reads, after strict instructions not to do so, by the way. The deaths were much more gruesome in the remake as well, involving innovative ways to kill the cast as well as the execution methods utilized in the original. To give a visual representation, the original movie was like a one way street; there were no diverging plot details or prefacing details. What you see was what you got. Watching the remake, however, is like a four lane highway; there is the main plot you must pay attention to, but there are also several side plots that tie into the story in a very important way. In a nutshell, it was a far more holistic movie than the original.
One thing that should definitely be noted when comparing these two movies, however, is that they share far more than just a common title. The 2013 Evil Dead is actually considered to be the fourth installment in the Evil Dead series. The first three movies (The Evil Dead, 1981, The Evil Dead II, 1987, and Army of Darkness, 1993) were all written and directed by Sam Raimi who, along with Bruce Campbell, produced the 2013 remake, written and directed by Fede Alvarez. Recently, at a premiere event, Alvarez announced a sequel and Raimi confirmed plans to write Evil Dead 4. These two men then stated that their ultimate plan was to follow Raimi’s four part series and Alvarez’s two part series to be followed by a seventh Evil Dead movie, mashing the narratives of Ash and Mia together. My inner fan girl screamed.
This movie is not for the faint-hearted. If you are easily bothered by blood, gore, or scary demons, I think it goes without saying that this is not a movie for you. That being said, if you are looking for a new look at an old classic, I highly recommend this movie. There are very few cases where I think that remakes outdo the original, but this rendition will have you at the edge of your seat. It may not be the most terrifying film you will ever experience, but it definitely ranked among my favorites.