Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Director: Sam Raimi
Running Time: 87 mins
Evil Dead II is an American film and the sequel to The Evil Dead. After being attacked by spirits in an isolated cabin, a man holes up along with a group of strangers as the spirits launch their most powerful assault yet.
I can’t think of another case where a director has made a full-blown parody of their own movie. With Evil Dead II, Sam Raimi brings a really unique perspective to the horror game, and although it’s never quite a perfect movie, it’s full of laughs and enjoyably ridiculous horror fare throughout, with a standout performance from Bruce Campbell in the lead role.
I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Evil Dead. Though an innovative low-budget horror, I felt it lacked an engaging story, and that its use of gore was a little excessive.
So, effectively reinventing the same movie as an all-out comedy is a fascinating prospect, and I’ll say that – for the most part – it works nicely. The film’s identical setting and characters to the last one make for an enjoyably bewildering watch from the start, and as things get sillier throughout, it gets all the more enjoyable.
Horror fans shouldn’t despair, however, because there’s the same level of violence and gore as the last movie – it’s just used in a different way. While the previous film’s excessive use of gore ultimately dulled its shock value, the way that Evil Dead II just keeps ramping up the violence adds to its fun factor.
In tandem with a brilliantly physical and endlessly hilarious performance from Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead II is able to bring entirely new, fun-loving energy to what is effectively the same story told in a completely different way.
In terms of laughs, the movie isn’t on the level of legendary parody movies like Airplane! or Blazing Saddles, but it is a consistently funny watch that keeps entertaining you with increasingly ridiculous twists and turns.
The movie’s screenplay is definitely funny, but its main comedic value comes from the way that it pokes fun at its immediate predecessor. Director Sam Raimi uses of the same techniques and even some of the same shots as the first film, but repurposes them brilliantly for comedic effect, bringing together together your memory of the first movie and this new humorous spin really nicely.
However, where Evil Dead II really falls down lies in the same place as its predecessor: the story. Although this can rely on comedy to prop itself up, the plot is just as boring as the first film, and it ultimately outstays its welcome despite a short running time.
Once the film has reached peak stupidity about halfway through, you start to look elsewhere for entertainment, and there isn’t really anything. The plot is just a procession of gore like the first film, but almost feels as if a lesson hasn’t been learnt because it’s still a different story.
If, for example, Raimi had brought the same cast back to reshoot the exact same story in the same way but with a parodic spin, then I think Evil Dead II really could have worked. However, when it tries to be its own thing and tell its own story, it really falls flat, and loses some of that enjoyable, self-deprecating edge.
Overall, I liked Evil Dead II, although I felt it could have been a lot better. Though an enjoyable parody sequel with lots of laughs and a great performance from Bruce Campbell, it doesn’t do enough to really keep you loving every minute right until the end, falling into the same traps as its predecessor with an ultimately underwhelming story. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.