Should there be any doubt, we’re not speaking about The Evil Dead
from 1981. The new movie—on which series godhead Sam Raimi served as producer—is undeniably effective. But the response it provokes has less to do with traditional notions of fear than with autonomic revulsion from the cavalcade of brutality. Though the central construct is unaltered—twentysomethings travel deep into the woods to spend an evening in a despoiled cabin—the motivating impulse differs. Rather than indulge in a far-flung debauch, these kids want only to help a junkie kick her habit. There’s a delicious sliver of horror to be explored by conflating demonic possession and the throes of heroin addiction. End of the day, Evil Dead
smacks of a film made to satisfy a bet, albeit one forced upon the creators by a fan base seemingly unwilling to acknowledge that the diabolical allure wielded by the original incarnation has everything to do with the serendipitous grouping of rarefied talent, and nothing whatsoever to do with the Naturom Demonto or the mythology that would grow up and around the film. Faced with the patently impossible task of assuaging a marketplace sure to revolt against too similar an approach or too great a break, it’s more than a little impressive that Raimi and Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez have manufactured a cinematic creature that’s both the clear descendant of their dearly departed creation and unaware of its lineage. It’s impressive, engineering this leviathan, but unbeing The Evil Dead
isn’t being alive. Or good.