Evil Dead (2013): A Remake That Works

Written by AJ

It’s official: Evil Dead is on 4K UHD for the first time!

This 2013 film is an interesting case study in our revivalist movie culture because it’s seldom that remakes are given the agency to become their own thing. From a risk management standpoint, that’s to be expected for a few different reasons. For starters, they’re very easy to screw up. To revisit a world that already exists means there’s only so much ground to be covered before feeling like a pointless revisit. Plus, there’s a considerable amount at stake; if it upsets the fanbase, they have every right to question the existence of a reboot altogether. Just think of the Oldboy fans, still shaking their fists in livid disgust to this day.

When it’s all said and done, reboots are justified by the filmmaker’s ability to find new angles to explore—and if one can’t be found, maybe it shouldn’t exist at all. That was the dilemma for horror fans when a remake of Evil Dead was announced in 2009. At first, the skepticism seemed reasonable; Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic set a gold standard for movies with sacred niche appeal. Spawning two direct sequels and a massive cult following, a re-animation of this long-dead franchise would’ve been sacrilegious to an ironic degree.

Furthermore, it was clear that Raimi had moved on to an A-list career beyond the pages of a Necronomicon. He won commercial recognition for his tentpole Spider-Man trilogy, yet somewhere in the darkest corners of his mind, he had always known that a return to Evil Dead was inevitable. But rather than repeat himself, he wanted something fresh, with a voice all its own. In order to do that, he enlisted the vision of an independent Uruguayan filmmaker named Fede Álvarez, whose terrifying script would render a brand new nightmare that reinvented Raimi’s classic with a gruesome modern twist.

Teaming with Ghost House Pictures, Álvarez conjured a remake that would shake audiences to their core with 2013’s Evil Dead, a soft reboot with sincere admiration for the original, though more grounded in unflinching realism. The premise is familiar enough; it follows a group of twenty-somethings who venture to a remote wooded cabin in an attempt to help Mia (Jane Levy) overcome the woes of drug withdrawal. After finding a strange book in the basement, a malevolent force is awakened, wreaking foul and fatal havoc among them.

Hailed as “the most terrifying film you will ever experience,” the film’s gritty, bare-knuckled spirit isn’t diminished in light of its $17 million budget. Barb-wired and unsparing in its graphic depictions of violence, the film shattered a record for its use of practical effects, spewing 70,000 gallons of fake blood in its 92 minute runtime. That’s more than 3 swimming pools of goopy red paste tinting each frame of this lurid splatter flick.

The film is essentially a gripping human drama about one woman’s mortal struggle with vice, but augmented by a slow-simmering pace that crescendos to a symphony of grotesque images and sequences that speak to the rebellious quality that made Sam Raimi’s original vision so intoxicating and disruptive. Horror is a genre that is inherently built around situational provocation and extremity; this film pushes those limits past the brink of total madness and finds unanimous favor on the other side.

The reception couldn’t have been more lively as fans let out a collective sigh of relief at their overwhelming sense of approval for Álvarez’s ability to capture the ethos of Raimi’s original while having the (literal) guts to let it be something new altogether. As it walked a blood-soaked tightrope between departure and homage, Evil Dead broke the shackles of reboot culture and achieved recognition as one of the finest horror films of the last decade.

Standing at the precipice of Halloween season, we invite all those who dare to step back into the cabin from hell, now in the stunning visual splendor of 4K Blu Ray. And you can find it right here at Scream Factory.