Say what you will about modern horror remakes, but most of them suck. In fact, most modern horror movies coming out of Hollywood are so bad that people’s expectations are at an all time low. Audiences are expecting a film like Paranormal Activity 4 to reinvent the wheel when the entirety of its campaign has revolved around the fact that yes, at one point, a girl is levitated off a bed by an unseen figure. Not only has this been glimpsed in every trailer, TV spot, poster, website banner and piece of marketing around the film, they even had the audacity to parade it as a preview clip. Yes, we get it, a girl levitates in the middle of a room. I sincerely hope that something else happens, because if you tricked everyone to watch your terrible movie by showing that clip, and that’s all that happens, it’s going to be bloody disappointing. Frankly, I hope she fucking explodes.
Yes, expectations for Hollywood horror is at an all time low, which is why when a movie such as Sinister comes along – a film that has some cool ideas, but is ultimately just an above average horror film – it gets hailed as a goddamn work of art. Sinister unfortunately follows the standard Hollywood horror recipe. It may make a pretty scary and effective two-minute trailer, but it fails to stretch out that level of tension for ninety minutes.
When Hollywood isn’t trying to masquerade an old idea with a new sheen, or replicate successes of past by releasing enough sequels to sink the Titanic, they’re forgetting to pretend that they’re trying, and just commission remakes of horror classics, because that’s exactly what the world needs.
This brings me to the impending remake of The Evil Dead, which is being produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Oh joy.
Technically this is actually the second time The Evil Dead has been remade, as Sam Raimi has admitted before that Evil Dead 2 was a remake on a bigger budget (a movie which is significantly weaker than the original).
This new remake is being directed by a relative unknown named Fede Alvarez, a director from Uruguay who made an extremely low budget (reportedly around $300) short science fiction film called Ataque de Pánico! (For our English readers that’s Panic Attack!), consisting of an army of robots and aircraft destroying Uruguay’s capital city of Montevideo. You can view that here:
It really is very impressive, so in a way, I’m pretty happy that a young and relatively untested director of this calibre is being given this opportunity. At the same time, it would be even nicer to give him a bigger budget to create his own work. Also, bonus points for using a John Murphy score in your short film (I wonder what the licensing is like on that?)!
The script for the remake has been written by Diablo Cody, which to a lot of people would seem like a good thing, but it’s not. It’s really not. Did you see Jennifer’s Body?
The film is still set to feature a group of fun-loving teenagers who stumble upon a cabin in the woods and find a creepy old book written in a strange and dark language. Naturally, the young fools decide to read it and their trip turns from bad to worse as the evil of the woods begins to plague them. While the basic premise is the same as the original, the production team have claimed that there is where the similarities end, and it will apparently deviate heavily from the original (beyond the set-up).
The image released from the production last week (shown top) is a modernized version of the iconic shot from the original that features the first possessed female character being locked in the basement. This shot unfortunately looks very heavily CGI, even though the filmmaker’s have assured us that the film will be avoiding CGI as much as possible. Also, there was something infinitely creepier about the plain white eyes of the original vs. the coloured, more cat-like eyes of the remake version – something that has become rather ordinary for anything remotely supernatural, and unfortunately not at all scary.
Anyway, the red band trailer dropped onto the internet yesterday and it certainly lives up to the promises that the production team have been making all along… It’s rather grisly and as such is most certainly NSFW.
So, we have scenes reminiscent of the original, and a welcome return of the audacious tree-rape signature scene. We also have some new gratuitously bloodthirsty moments, showcasing an amateur amputation, and the hook of the trailer which reveals a very memorable scene centered around a possessed woman splitting her tongue in two with the blade of a utility knife. Aside from a couple of incredibly gory new entries into the canon of pain and devastation, one would be forgiven for being confused as to how this “deviates heavily” from the original (And if it deviates so heavily, why call it a remake in the first place?).
Overall, it looks to be shot in a pretty good, grimy style and it retains the first person evil spirit camera angles of old. There definitely seems to be a welcome balance of both old hallmarks of the franchise and new tricks, but ultimately it remains to be seen whether this will become more than the sum of its parts. What I can tell from this short trailer is that it is a vicious film that is aggressive towards the audience’s expectations. It has fire in its belly, which is something that has seemed to have carried over from Raimi’s original. This makes it somewhat refreshing considering the output of recent Hollywood fare has been tremendously standardized and offered audiences nothing new. It seems that Raimi may have found a younger counterpart to channel his youthful enthusiasm and challenging horror ethic.
Despite the original negative tone at the start of this post I shall delay heavy criticism until I see more. The one concern is that this film will rely too heavily on it its blood and gore content and not offer anything more compelling in the form of story or character development. Every successful horror film has either a memorable protagonist or antagonist, and often both. The Evil Dead‘s antagonistic force is traditionally formless, so it definitely needs a strong lead. Bruce Campbell became legendary in the role of Ash, so there are very large boots to fill for the young actor who is set to replace him.
The production have attempted to offset this legendary status somewhat by casting a female as the protagonist lead in Jane Levy, from the Subgartory television series, but time will tell whether this is a wise move (it’s also a pretty obvious grubby fingerprint made by Diablo Cody’s involvement).
The Evil Dead will be released sometime in 2013.
Well, at least if it doesn’t work out for Mr Alvarez, he could find himself a successful career in video game direction judging by the quality of his short film.