Red band trailers for Evil Dead gleefully inundate viewers with gory imagery and shudder-inducing violence, but what about legitimate horror that’s actually scary? The story from director Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues Mendez and producer Sam Raimi follows five friends into the woods, where they unwittingly unleash deranged supernatural forces by reading from a mysterious (and dangerous) book.
Alvarez’ remake incorporates a drug addiction subplot, but Sony recognizes the blood splatter and callbacks to the iconography of Raimi’s original stands a better chance of making Evil Dead fans giddy – and turning around negative opinion - as opposed to, a legitimately terrifying exploration of health care. Today’s green band trailer likewise passes on the story, but suffers without the grisly payoff to fall back on (translation: it’s even less scary, without the disgusting content).
Raimi’s original Evil Dead earned a cult following for its camp gore, but Raimi and star Bruce Campbell (who’s also producing the remake) made the film with serious intention. That accounts for references to French surrealists Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face) and Jean Coceatu (the Orpheus trilogy) in a movie some describe as a mix of Night of the Living Dead and The Three Stooges. Raimi views the 1981 feature as “a little campfire story” and says Alvarez’ remake presents a chance to revisit his “old melody” and take it places he never imagined.
That explains why Campbell (as he explained at the NY Comic-Con) put star Jane Levy through hell before shooting on Alvarez’ remake got underway. For all intents and purposes, the new Evil Dead is the picture young Raimi and Campbell originally set out to make (looking back with the benefit of 30 years’ hindsight and additional filmmaking experience, that is). But in an age where the original film’s tropes have been riffed (Cabin in the Woods) and recycled (Cabin Fever) to death, can a grittier and grosser re-telling satisfy anyone but gore-hungry horror-philes?
To be honest, I suspect it will partly depend on how much depth of characterization the screenwriters are able to infuse into the human “players.” With Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) touching up the dialogue, they may represent the arrogance of the current generation and, thus, the story could have satirical undertones. After all, who doesn’t want to watch obnoxious hipsters spouting Cody-isms get taught a lesson, when they meddle with the Necromonicron (ie. a metaphor for vintage pop culture) and assume they’re cool enough to handle it?
Beyond that, it’s the emotional impact of (literal) substance addiction demons that Levy confronts which must pull us through and given audiences reasons to root for her, even as her peers are pulverized. The cringe-worthy violence and homages to the original film (demon POV shots, possessed trees) may be enough for the Evil Dead purists, but newcomers might demand more if they’re expected to view this flick as something worth holding onto – and not just (really) nasty horror junk.
Evil Dead opens in theaters on April 12th, 2013. Are you looking forward to it?