After the massive success of the first Evil Dead movie, it would have been criminal not to continue the franchise and produce a sequel. Years later, Sam Raimi achieved just that with a second, and even stronger swing at the iconic horror comedy with the movie that truly defined the franchise,
The first movie was a completely independent production with very limited resources and that bled through into the overall film, but it was also this charm that captured the hearts of its viewers, and it was something that Raimi wouldn’t have wanted to give up on. But the question was, how to hold on to what made the first movie great, and still reach for greater heights with its sequel.
Raimi decided that a fair bit of plastic surgery was required, and the original premise of the first movie was heavily overhauled, dropping the main actors that were part of the first movie altogether, but still keeping Bruce Campbell, the survivor of the first movie and giving him a greater, and more prominent role.
Deservedly so. In the first movie, Campbell didn’t seem so sure of himself as an actor, and the years between the two movies, it seems that he has put tremendous effort into improving his craft, and it shows through. The difference between his forgettable performance in the first movie and his presence in the sequel are night and day. But more on that later for Campbell isn’t the only element of the story that underwent a significant overhaul. The overall lore and narrative did as well. No longer an indie project but a full blown production, Raimi could now afford to take his time in building a narrative and the lore of the world he has co-created, including the accursed ‘Necronomicon’, the book that started this entire nightmare.
Sequel or soft reboot?
With so many changes made, there is a legitimate question whether the second Evil Dead movie is really a sequel or a soft reboot. The way the movie is presented doesn’t require you to watch through the first movie, although those returning would certainly be well rewarded as well. Either way, what matters is if the movie is any good to begin with.
And Evil Dead II is certainly a major upgrade. From the production quality, the visual effects, to even the set design, this movie is a significant upgrade from the first. And the same can be said for our side character turned protagonist, Ash, played by Bruce Campbell.
Although certainly charming in the first movie, Campbell was very forgettable for the most part of the first movie. He seemed to make the worst choice in every possible moment, and even Campbell’s performance was shaky at best.
But things are significantly different in this iteration. Unlike many horror movie characters, Ash is able to make rational decisions, and although not everything goes his way (it hardly ever does in the movie), the decisions he makes seem sensible, one of the highest praises a horror character can get.
It’s not just Ash, Campbell himself has certainly improved as an actor since we last saw him. Watching the Evil Dead II, I found ash an absolute joy to watch, with Campbell putting out a stellar performance, and one that defined his career to this day.
Campbell’s style of acting is certainly unique, and how he plays Ash is absolutely mesmerising, stealing the show from the first minute to the last. A performance with expressions and mannerisms that could even put the great Nicholas Cage to shame, and the delivery of a number of one liners, Campbell’s performance as Ash in the Evil Dead II is nothing short of “groovy.”
If you haven’t watched The Evil Dead II yet, I highly recommend that you do. It is a movie that was the beginning of many iconic lines and moments that continue to be rehashed today, and for what it’s worth, seeing Bruce Campbell’s performance as Ash alone is reward and reason enough to try the movie out. It certainly isn’t a perfect movie, but it sure is one of the most entertaining experiences that I have had the pleasure of witnessing.
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage