Saturday, April 6, 2013

Evil Dead in a Post Cabin in the Woods World

A lot of the advance talk about the new Evil Dead reboot has been about how it will justify its existence "post-Cabin in the Woods." I liked Cabin in the Woods, which deconstructs much of the horror genre. My comment, leaving a 10:30am screening which had maximum 4 people in attendance, was something along the lines of: "that was f-ing awesome." But is the Goddard/Whedon flick earth-shattering enough to change the way we see horror films forever? If it is, is even the original Evil Dead safe?

Fair warning: spoilers ahead for both Cabin in the Woods and Evil Dead.

In preparation for going to the reboot this Sunday, I livetweeted a retwatch of the OG Evil Dead. First, let me assure you: it stands up - Cabin in the Woods won't ruin Sam Raimi's debut moving camera masterpiece for you if you loved it before. And despite the comparisons and the shared setting, Dead doesn't use a lot of the tropes that Cabin mocks:

- It doesn't fall prey to FGS (final girl syndrome).
- With two notable exceptions, no one "splits up." Those exceptions make sense contextually.
- There's almost a complete lack of sexploitation.
- With the exception of thinking an animal could open a cellar hatch, the kids aren't that dumb.
- The poor decisions that the kids do make are based on (almost) realistic human emotions.
- There are almost no jump cuts or cheap scares.

The biggest thing that the original Evil Dead has going for it is that it doesn't hold back. Raimi just goes for it. Everything gets crazier and crazier, until there are giant demon hands exploding out of people. It's not surprising that the sequel becomes horror comedy; there was nowhere else for the series to go.

Ultimately, there's a flaw in the argument that any piece of satire or parody "changes everything" for a genre. "Scream" didn't kill the slasher. In fact, movies like Cabin in the Woods often enhance our experience watching the movies they ostensibly skewer. They help us understand the original films better, almost in the same way taking a film class might... and there's no ruining movies as inherently awesome as the original Evil Dead.

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