Written by: John Edward Betancourt
I remember the first time I came across The Evil Dead. I was a teenager and believe or it not folks, video stores still existed. This one was just up the road from where I grew up and on this day, like every time I visited the store, I was parked in the horror section. I made it a habit to rent something new every week and for some reason, I had missed this title, until this particular day.
I lifted up the box and read the description and while it seemed like a generic synopsis, I gave it a shot, took it home and never looked back. Only because Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead left me in awe.
Set in the middle of nowhere in a remote cabin, five college kids have decided to get away for the weekend. But their discovery of a hideous book bound in flesh and inked in blood leads to an evening of unbridled terror when their curiosity of the book unleashes an unrelenting evil.
If there is one word to describe this film, it is simplicity. Shot on a shoe string budget The Evil Dead is clearly a labor of love from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell who used their lack of funds to fuel their imagination in so many different ways, starting with how the movie was filmed. Raimi uses the camera itself as a special effect, disorienting you at times, making you completely uncomfortable before something horrible happens with the monsters on screen.
Yet that is only the beginning. The story itself is equally as simple. No powerhouse back story for the evil that roams, or the characters for that matter and that too lends to the movie's magic. By not knowing these people we are merely observers for the wholesale torture that they go through and that somehow makes it worse. We don't know if these are good human beings or bad ones, just that they are being torn apart and that unique twist is what makes the film so incredibly scary.
The Evil Dead has been called "The ultimate experience in grueling terror" and that label is pretty damn accurate. For the majority of it's 85 minute running time we are as trapped as those poor people in the cabin, and our consolation prize for stepping out into the sunlight is wondering what that noise was outside once the sun has gone down.