The sequel to “The Evil Dead” is once again what happens when Sam Raimi has little and can do so much with it. As director, Raimi finds new ways to enthrall the viewer and add a new appendage to the “Evil Dead” series without ruining the former film. “Dead by Dawn” acts as a sequel and a pseudo-remake, that recaps the original film in a brevity, and then proceeds to follow along with the journey of Ash Williams. Becoming the accidental hero in many ways, Ash is a man tasked with fighting the demonic beings of the necronomicon, not because he chooses to, but because he simply can’t escape their grasp.
In the beginning he is forced to murder his friends because they are possessed, barely survives a skirmish with the demonic beings in the beginning of “Dead by Dawn,” and is once again forced to do battle. This time around, Ash does indeed become possessed, but by the good graces of the rising sun, the demon finds it impossible to overcome Ash’s soul and is frightened away. Ash has no choice but to go back to the cabin to seek some sort of clarity on the demonic beings, and has to battle them yet again when the daughter and friends of the professor in the recordings return with even more pages from the book of the dead. The nightmare begins all over again when the road is taken out by the dark forces connecting the two sides of land, and Ash must go back to make some sense of the book of the dead and hope to thwart its hold over the land. That becomes impossible when the possession continues, and Ash is forced in to confronting the rapidly possessed patrons, and even has to do battle with his evil doppleganger. When all seems lost, things become even worse when Ash’s hand forms its own consciousness and does battle with the hapless survivor.
Director Raimi seems to be aiming for his own brand of horror anti-hero (one of the final men of the genre) who comes face to face with the deadites time and time again, and can do nothing but strap up and battle them as best as he can. Much of “Evil Dead 2” is reserved for dark comedy, offering some truly wacky moments including a creepy scene involving a demonic woman dancing ballet, and the entire house in the woods turning on Ash with demonic laughter that begins to drive him mad before their horrible eyes. Campbell is at his best here, taking on the mantle of deadite foe who can’t escape their vengeful grasp on him. Much as he wants to turn around and go home, he can’t, because they have yet to swallow his soul. Once Ash grabs his boomstick, and modifies a chainsaw that becomes an extension of his now severed (and possessed) hand, he becomes someone the deadites will be locked in combat with in the foreseeable future. “Evil Dead 2” is a gruesome, and entertaining follow-up with a great ability to incite laughter and creeps from the audience. It’s a worthy follow-up to a classic horror film. “Dead By Dawn” is surely the sequel that “The Evil Dead” needed, and in the end it manages to extend its storyline, without ruining the premise from the first film. Raimi manages to tie up the cabin in the woods concept, while giving his hero Ash an entirely new purpose in snuffing out the evil deadites across every dimension. Including the medieval.