"Evil Dead II" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
In 1981, Sam Raimi made an impressive horror film with a very small budget, which he titled "The Evil Dead". The film was impressive due to the fact of what Raimi and his team was able to achieve with such a small amount of money and a group of practically unknown actors. Six years after the release of his first film, Raimi returns to the world of The Evil Dead, this time crafting a brilliant horror comedy that not only scares the viewer, but in a way, perfectly satirizes and pokes fun at some of the infamous tropes and scares found in the horror genre.
This installment in the "Evil Dead" franchise serves as a sort of "requel", where a movie's world is not only continued, but rebooted in a way. This is made obvious by the opening scenes of this film, where Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the first film goes to visit the same cabin he did in the first, practically making the first movie null in void. He vacations with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler), where they come across the Book of the Dead once again, possessing Linda, which forces her to try to kill Ash.
This seems exactly like the plot of the first movie, except this segment of the film lasts a little less than half of the runtime. One of my complaints of the first installment is that it took a little long to get to the main story that Raimi is trying to tell, but this film instantly picks up what he wants to do and run with it. While the 1981 film may have pulled out all the stops to tell a terrifying story about possession, this one is uninterested in frightening the audiences.
In fact, I would say this movie wants to be more of a comedy than anything. While some people may find this movie to be a farce and a pathetic attempt at recreating what Raimi and the cast did with the first film, I completely disagree. I think Raimi expertly crafted what he wanted to. This movie is meant to be a comedy; it is meant to poke fun at the horror movies that came before it. Consider the numerous scenes where Ash deals with his possessed hand, which was bitten by the head of his possessed girlfriend. Not only does Ash cut it off in gory fashion, but it has a mind of its own, which includes attacking Ash and flipping him the bird as it scurries away.
The movie also leans heavily into the excessive amounts of blood and gore. It is mostly comedic at time, and audiences start to expect it. When watching through the movie, I think it is not the matter of whether how bloody the film is, but how much more gruesome they can make it than the last kill. Sure, it's cheesy and campy, but it simply works in the context of the film. It really is a bloody good time (this movie probably would have loved that pun).
After a while, especially when the minor characters show up at the cabin, it seems like Raimi and his team start to run out of new ideas and try to just phone the rest of it in by leaning heavily into the comedy aspect. Sure, it is enjoyable and a lot of fun, but the latter half of the movie simply doesn't hold up to the standard of what the first forty-five minutes did as a whole.
If I had to pick, I think I would choose this film over the first one almost every time. It isn't as scary as its predecessor, but I enjoyed the more comedic, satirical aspect of this story than I did the straight horror. Raimi really knows how to craft these films to his own vision, and I think it is pretty impressive how he was able to create two completely different versions of practically the same story, and make them vastly unique and different from one another.