Evil Dead Explained: What Happened, in Detail! [Spoiler]
Evil Dead (review) finally released theatrically on April 5, 2013 – none too soon for horror fans itching to see what a remake of the classic Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell film would look like with those two involved in the production. This film is yet another example of how much intel can be gained by checking out the pre-release and critic screening schedules; those films that the filmmakers know is a pile of crap will severely limit the pre-release showings and even refuse to do critic screenings, while those that are really great are showing all over the place. Evil Dead was showing all over with special event screenings and festival premiers long before the intended release date. We saw a similar thing happening with Sinister back in October 2012.
Evil Dead is a direct remake of The Evil Dead, and carries most of the set-up themes and character placements of the original. The reason everyone is at the isolated cabin in the woods, and the names of all of the participants have changed, but ultimately the scenario is pretty identical to the 1980s fan favorite. The beauty of this remake is that there are also some interesting twists and turns added to the equation, along with an amount of gore and thoughtfully-applied effects to really add power to the feature rather than being some stupid and ill-conceived remake meant only to capitalize on the name that’s gained such a cult following. We have a limited-spoiler review of the film available for those who didn’t make it out for the big opening weekend and don’t want to have Evil Dead explained in totality. For others, this is where the spoilers start.
What follows is a full description of what happens in Evil Dead, from beginning to end with all details revealed. This is your final warning – if you are not interested in spoilers or will hate yourself for reading when you’re done, do not read this. Go to the review instead!
***Warning: Evil Dead Spoilers Below***
Now that our conscience is clear that we won’t be ruining Evil Dead for anyone, we can press on.
The film begins with a young woman, covered in blood and mud and marked with cuts and open wounds, stumbling through the woods alone. Sounds in the shadows betray a malevolent pursuer, and she tries to run and hide behind a tree, but no no avail; two men capture the girl, tie her up, and blind her with a black hood. When she is unhooded she is tied to a beam in the basement of… “the cabin”… and she is surrounded by a band of crazy and dirty looking people and her father. She begs her father to let her go, asks who all of these people are, and generally behaves as if she is the victim of some kind of satanic cult. What we find out, however, is that she is a deadite, has killed her mother, and that her father and the locals are trying to release her soul and get rid of the zombie deadite. Her father then pours gasoline over her and sets her on fire.
Later we see David (Shiloh Fernandez) driving to, and then arriving at, the infamous cabin in the woods with his girlfriend in tow. There are some others already there and waiting outside, including his sister Mia. Everyone is acting like it’s so surprising that David showed up, and we find out as things move along that David has been largely gone from the group, including his friends and family. This cabin is is an old family vacation place that belonged to David and Mia’s parents, and we learn that their mother became very ill, prompting David to move away and never visit because he couldn’t handle her suffering. Mia was the one who stayed behind to wipe her mother’s chin, empty her bedpans, and watch her die. We also learn that the purpose of this getaway is to hold the hand of Mia as she detoxes from her drug addiction. She had gone through a similar attempt to kick the habit once before with no success, but an overdose that almost claimed her life shocked everyone into the realization that this time it has to be for real.
Things start off pretty friendly, but very quickly Mia starts experiencing withdrawal symptoms and becomes a raving lunatic. She also starts complaining that the house stinks like something dead, and one of the friends (who is also a nurse it seems) tells her it’s only because her senses are hyperactive. When the dog starts sniffing at the rug in the middle of the room, however, David pulls it back to reveal a trap door in the middle of the floor. Curious sidenote: if this is an old family place then it’s kind of strange that the existence of a trap door in the middle of the living room floor is a huge surprise to David, but it is indeed a surprise. He and the other guy friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) venture down into the basement, and find the source of the stink – dozens of dead cats are hanging by their necks from the basement ceiling.
As the lads investigate the room they notice the burns on the supporting beam where the girl in the beginning was killed, and they also find something wrapped in black plastic (that looks like a hefty bag) and wrapped in barbed wire. Eric takes the book back upstairs and puts it in his room, and David closes up the basement door and promises to do something with the cats in the morning.
That night Eric cuts away the barbed wire covering the object wrapped in black plastic and opens the package up – it is the “book of the dead” which, according to the original The Evil Dead, is bound in human skin and inked in human blood. The book has a bunch of scary drawings in it as well as writing in another language, possibly Latin. There are also hand-written warnings throughout the book saying things like “don’t read this”, “this book is evil”, “read anything here and you will die”, that sort of thing. Of course, Eric reads it from cover to cover anyway. There are some particular things that the handwritten notes are particularly urgent that nobody read, and those passages are covered up with thick pen marks in an attempt to make them illegible. Eric gets some blank paper and uses a pencil to make an etching of those words, and as each one becomes visible he says it aloud.
While all of this is happening Mia takes off outside to rant and rave by herself in the woods, and begins having visions of the dead girl from the beginning of the film, chasing her. We in the audience also see the trademark camera shots moving through the woods, see dry ice smoke coming up from the dirt, and hear the creepy voice saying “join us” – all things that happened in the first The Evil Dead when the tape recorder chanted the same words that Eric spoke out loud. Well, Mia gets spooked by strange voices and the appearance of the dead girl and goes running around, falling down all the while, until she gets caught in some vines and twigs that seem to be holding her prisoner and keeping her immobile. Then the dead girl appears again, right in front of Mia, and a big worm-like thing comes out of her mouth, crawls across the ground and up Mia’s leg, and disappears inside her vagina. Mia then breaks free and runs back to the house.
Once Mia arrives at the house she tells David (who is the “Ash” character at this point, showing many parallels to Bruce Campbell’s character from the original) that there’s something in the woods, they are all going to die, she has to get out of here, blah blah blah… and David says that he won’t take her anywhere because she has to get off drugs. So, Mia goes into her room, out her window, and takes off in one of the cars on her own. She sees the ghost girl again and crashes the car into a swamp. The others find her and take her back to the cabin, but when they aren’t looking she goes into the bathroom and sits under the scalding water, giving herself bad burns. David then tries to take her to the hospital, but the road is washed out, so he brings her back and the nurse girl gives her a huge amount of tranquelizers. Still, Mia gets up and announces to the group that they are all going to die tonight, and she has funky eyes. Oh, and at some point Mia also killed the dog. Mia becomes so violent that they have to put her down in the basement, under the trap door.
Well, the nurse girl who tended to Mia right after the burns is not doing so well, and starts seeing weird things in the bathroom mirror. Then the mirror bursts outward, showering glass everywhere. When Eric goes into the bathroom to see what’s happening she finds the nurse girl on her hands and knees in the shower, cutting off her face with a shard of glass. Eric at this point is understanding that the pictures and stories in the book he’s been reading are coming true, and knows that this girl is demon-possessed, so when the girl comes after him he kills her by smashing her head in. David and his girlfriend then come into the room and see Eric sitting on the floor in front of the smashed-head nurse girl, who is dead.
With all of the commotion going on Mia seems to have escaped the basement, as the basement door is open. David and Eric go outside to look for her, but Mia is still in the basement, and lures David’s girlfriend down there to help her, sounding all sweet. Once she’s down there, however, she gets demon-like again and when the girlfriend breaks a step trying to get out she has to crawl to safety, and Mia grabs her leg. Once they are both down there together Mia gets a knife and cuts her tongue down the middle like a serpent tongue, but David pulls his girlfriend out and saves her in the nick of time. David then uses chains to secure the door in a similar fashion to how Ash did the same thing in the original The Evil Dead.
Well, David’s girlfriend isn’t doing so well, now that she’s spent time alone with Mia, and her hand starts to grab at her face on it’s own. So, she does what anyone would do – cuts off her arm with an electric carving knife. David and Eric try to tie up the arm and get her into bed because she’s passed out or something, but she gets up grabs a shotgun with her good hand and shoots Eric, in the shoulder if I remember correctly. David then fights with her and gets thrown around a bit, but in the nick of time Eric gets the gun and shoots her down. At this point Eric shares the whole story with David, including the three ways to stop the deadites: burning, burying alive, or bodily dismemberment. We also learn that there is one particular demon behind this all, and once he can consume 5 souls he will walk the earth and basically end life as we know it.
David’s girlfriend revives and starts shooting a nail gun, getting a few nails into David and a ton of nails into Eric before being subdued again. Eric, now, is about to die. At about this time a bolt of lightening strikes a tree outside and it catches on fire, and suddenly David knows what he needs to do: go get Mia and bury her alive.
David goes down in the basement to look for Mia, and when he finds her she tosses him around a bit down there – a section of the basement is full of water so he does a bunch of splashing around and it looks like he’s going to be drowned, but Eric isn’t dead after all and saves David and they subdue Mia, before Eric succumbs to his many wounds and dies. David then takes Mia outside with a plastic bag on her head and some kind of ceremonial dress on and digs a hole to bury her. Mia starts talking in her normal Mia voice to try and convince David she’s okay now, but he still buries her, and once he does so the fire in the tree goes out. David immediately digs Mia up and uses a contraption with a battery hooked up to it to restart her heart and bring her back, just the way she was brought back after her drug overdose. It seems that David has beat the demon and saved his sister, but…
David tries to go into the house and spreads gasoline around, intending to burn the house and the bodies inside. Just as he starts the fire, though, he discovers that Eric is now a deadite, and at least one of the girls who was previously possessed is inside as well. David then gives his jeep keys to Mia and locks himself inside the cabin, so that he too will die along with the demon zombies. Mia watches the place burn, and prepares to head off to safety, until…
The ghost-demon girl from the beginning is back after her now, trying to get her back into the fold. The demon girl pushes the jeep over and Mia almost escapes the crush, but her hand gets caught. As the demon girl approaches Mia rips her hand off and gets ahold of a chainsaw from the shed, and in the nick of time she starts it up (with her good hand) and cuts the demon girl’s head in half. She then goes walking off, the burning cabin behind her. Credits.
There are mixed reports of alternate scenes at the end of the credits, and it does appear that there may be more than one version in different theaters. Read the accounting of the alternate ending scene rumors, and reality here.
Key Question Analysis
One of the striking elements of Evil Dead, considering it is of course a remake of The Evil Dead, is the treatment of the “Ash character”. Bruce Campbell, of course, plays Ash Williams in the original, and he is the final survivor of the film. David in Evil Dead fulfills the Ash role throughout the majority of the film, even being thrown around in a similar fashion and sharing the same moments of moral dilemma when he can’t decide whether to cut up and kill his former friends, or try to save them. In the original the first demon zombie, and ringleader of the zombie pack is Ash’s sister Cheryl, and Mia takes the Cheryl role through the majority of the film, even sitting under the door of the basement and taunting the others in the same way Cheryl did. At the end, though, those roles switch up. Once Mia is “saved” she becomes the one who wields the chainsaw, and she is the one who survives. Mia, in the end, is the Ash character. This is a great twist.
5 Souls for the demon
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the 5 souls, and which ones they were to allow the demon in the end to arise. Some of the arguments are that it’s not right that the demon arose at all, because there never were the 5 souls… David never turned, and Mia was saved, so at best, even if Mia “counted”, there were only 4, and perhaps only 3. Another argument is that Ash indeed turned before he died, and Mia did count, so there are your 5. Yet another argument is that Ash turned, Mia did NOT count, but the girl in the beginning was the first, so only 4 more were needed. Finally, some are also saying that the dog counted as one of the souls.
Sorry folks, but none of these are right. The fact is, the demon never did arise at all. The big climax at the end with the demon girl was just that, a confrontation with the demon girl. She didn’t just show up at the end, she showed up in the beginning too. She had been hanging around underground since the first sequence of the film when she was burned up. Because this big bad demon never arose, one of two things must have happened: Mia didn’t count, and/or David didn’t turn. Probably both, since that girl in the beginning very well may have been number one. So, with beginning girl, plus girlfriend plus nurse plus Eric, that’s 4… one more is needed. We never hit 5. Granted, to make this case we must also assume that Mia was resuscitated before Eric turned, because otherwise Eric would have been the fifth. That’s my position anyway… please, if you have something that makes more sense then this, please share it below and we’ll debate until the deadites come home.
This film was very respectful of the source material while still adding something new to the story, and that’s a win. Read the full review here.
Also on the Web
Note: Comments May Take up to 60 Minutes to Display