Going to the Movies – Evil Dead

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

I like scary movies. I do. I swear. You might not know it if you saw me watching one. I’m the one with my fingers in my ears (scary music = scary movie, no scary music than no scary movie) and am turning my head away every so often in anticipation of the next loud noise. It seems stressful for me, and at times it is, but in a way I’m facing my fears and enduring an adrenaline rush in the process.

Watching “Evil Dead” – an adaptation of Sam Raimi’s (“Spider Man” trilogy & countless others) first film, the 1981 cult classic “The Evil Dead” – I was put through several rounds of adrenaline rushes. It was only when I was walking out of the theater did I realize my hands were sore because I was pressing my fingers so hard into my ears. I’m not even sure I liked the movie that much, but it was an experience.

There are many similarities between “Evil Dead” and “The Evil Dead.” A cabin in the woods? Not just check – they were essentially identical. The creepy porch swing exists in the new one but so does an additional shed. Three girls and two guys? Yup. A brother and sister are still the main focus. A forest seemingly with a mind of its own? Got it. 360 degree shots and the camera personifying fast moving demons? Everything seemed to be pretty on point.

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However, there are many differences as well. The large one is the fact that “Evil Dead” has a more defined story. In “The Evil Dead” there were just friends, no defined ages or relationships at the beginning, going to spend a weekend in a cabin that was cheap to rent. The suspense and gore occurred within minutes of the film starting. In “Evil Dead” a group of friends are brought to a cabin in the woods owned by the family of the starring characters – Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez). Mia has issues with substance abuse and has come to get clean with old friends. David, her older brother, who appears to have been away a long time because he couldn’t handle their dying mother – who we learn later on the film had mental issues. He returns with a new girlfriend to help Mia get sober.

If you’re looking for classic 1980s nudity it’s not there, but there is some pretty gnarly special effects. Demonic possession lends itself to a lot of creative CGI effects. Arms being cut off, hands being ripped off, faces being carved, and mostly all of this is self-mutilation. It’s disgusting, but they were trying to live up to the original and that’s a tall order. (I was waiting for an ankle being stabbed and destroyed by a pencil. Sadly, the moment never came.) I have to say I preferred the original version. Demons with computerized effects don’t seem to match the sheer creepiness of Bruce Campbell’s blonde-haired possessed girlfriend sitting on the floor of the main room of the cabin giggling. Sam Raimi was so before his time in terms of gore and it was this creative approach that filmmakers in, or delving into, the horror genre have tried to mimic or satirize (ie Joss Whedon’s fresh take in 2011 “The Cabin in the Woods”) ever since.

Both the original and the adaptation provide laughs because of just how absurd and ridiculous the plots are, but there’s something about a classic.  While “Evil Dead” had its moments, I have to say, I did miss the intense close-ups in “The Evil Dead” that highlighted Bruce Campbell’s unibrow and darting eyes.  The original is raw and classic. The audience seemed to genuinely enjoy “Evil Dead” and the film ended in a way that lends itself to a sequel. For me, like with nearly every scary movie, it felt like it was just a little too long, but there was a lot to cover and expectations were high. (The film only ran an hour and a half, but I always tend to think “What else could possibly happen?”) If you like gore, demons, and people making terrible, terrible decisions, then this is your film. There is a legion of people out there who will love this film and I’m a fan of Rob Zombie’s “House of a Thousand Corpses” so I get it. It’s all so terrible it’s great.

“The Evil Dead” opens nationwide on April 5, 2013.

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