The current state of the Evil Dead remake

News Ryan Lambie
11 Feb 2012 - 13:53

With two new actors added to its cast last week, the remake of Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead presses on…

Exactly why anyone would want to remake something as deliciously simple and gleefully violent as Sam Raimi’s classic 1981 debut, The Evil Dead, is open to debate. But with the Evil Dead name now a bona fide franchise, spawning a spin-off stage musical and various comic books, it was inevitable, we suppose, that someone would come up with the idea of remaking the original film sooner or later.

A sequel to 1992’s Army Of Darkness has been talked about for years, but the possibility of a proper fourth Evil Dead movie, with star Bruce Campbell at the helm, seems to be dwindling. Instead, Campbell and Raimi appear to be directing their energies into the Evil Dead remake, which is currently scheduled for release in 2013.

To direct, Raimi has chosen director Fede Álvarez, a young Uruguayan filmmaker who immediately gained attention with his sci-fi short, Ataque de Pánico!, in which he staged a full-scale robot invasion for just $300. The Evil Dead will therefore be Álvarez’s first feature, with Raimi no doubt providing some valuable input as producer.

Diablo Cody, writer of the acclaimed Juno, was brought in to revise a script originally penned by Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues.

In January, horror website Bloody Disgusting revealed some snippets of the new film’s story. While it still involves a handful of friends heading to a remote cabin and unwittingly unleashing an evil force, there’s a drug subplot, in which the lead character uses the vacation to try to get over their narcotic addiction. And in a further twist, that lead character would be female, replacing the square-jawed hero archetype so memorably established by Campbell back in the early 80s.

That heroine will be named Mia, and it was reported that Lily Collins had accepted the role. On the 24th of January, however, Collins bowed out of the production, apparently due to some sort of scheduling conflict. (On the basis of her performance alongside Taylor Lautner in the woeful Abducted last year, it’s possible that The Evil Dead may have had a lucky escape, but we won’t dwell on that here.)

With Collins out of the picture, television actress Jane Levy has been brought in as Mia, and will star alongside Shiloh Fernandez and the recently added Lou Taylor Pucci as three of the film’s five young leads.

So far, then, the Evil Dead remake is plodding ahead. But the question is, can it recapture the same vitality and (once controversial) creative violence that made the low-budget original such a classic? At the very least, it has to bring something new to the franchise, which is perhaps why the decision’s been made to change the gender of its central character – the introduction of Diablo Cody’s writing skills should also, we hope, give the script a much-needed sense of blackly comic verve.

That Raimi’s production company is directly involved in the remake is some comfort, too – unlike some of the cynical horror remakes that have crowded into cinemas in recent years, this one will at least be put together by people who care about the property. That the film will bear the Evil Dead name will, perhaps, doom it to endless comparisons with the original, but there’s at least the possibility that Álvarez’s remake will stand on its own two feet as a great horror flick in its own right.

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