Synopsis: Moving the action out of the woods and into the city, “Evil Dead Rise” tells a twisted tale of two estranged sisters, played by Sullivan and Sutherland, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
When are we going to learn our lesson? Don’t press the red button, don’t poke the bear, don’t stay in that secluded cabin, and definitely don’t open the creepy-looking flesh-feeling book. No matter how much cinema and television we consume or books we read, curiosity will always be the downfall of humanity. We’ll watch a video online that results in someone shattering every bone in their body or getting their dome split open and think, won’t happen to me, let’s try it. Jackass literally began every episode with an unmissable disclaimer and thousands of us still end up in the emergency room. It’s okay to take risks but don’t be a dumbass. At the very least, don’t be a solitary dumbass. Not to mention, if it looks dangerous or deadly, it probably is.
“You don’t look so good, Mom.”
When mommy says that she loves you to death, you probably don’t expect her to be the cause of it. Written and directed by Lee Cronin, Evil Dead Rise reawakens the cult franchise and basks in gory glory. As a lifelong fan of the franchise, I am incredibly happy to report that Cronin’s installment just might creepily crawl and claw its way to the top of your list. Trading the cabin in the woods for a deteriorating dank decrepit apartment building, the location may have changed but the spirit, carnage, and complete mayhem that you’ve come to expect remains prevalent. Not only will you be covering your eyes and clinging onto the person that you came with but this chilling bloodfest is so visceral that you’ll feel every graphic moment in your bones. Visiting pages in the infamous Book of the Dead that have yet to be explored, there are scenes that are sure to be burned into your memory. With its nods to supernatural classics such as The Shining and as well as its predecessors, Evil Dead Rise is the horror movie that you’ve been searching for all year.
“Dead by dawn.”
The presence of siblings and family turmoil has always been a staple in the franchise and this entry is no different. We have two estranged sisters, Beth and Ellie, one of which has her own daughters that have their own set of issues, giving the story a strong womanly essence, however, the energy isn’t what most would deem as feminine. That is, except for the resistance to weather a constant barrage of fuckery. Nevertheless, on top of survival, the overarching theme is motherhood. While Ellie doing the best she can but struggling as a single parent, Beth wonders if she is capable of even being a mother or if she even wants to. Not only is this relevant at the moment but it’s relatable regardless of gender. We all at some point feel the pressure to have children but then question our want to be a parent and the ability to do so. But just as survival instincts activate as demons possess those around you and attempt to rip your head from your torso, those same instincts aren’t so different from the parental ones as you’ll do anything and everything in your power to protect the child that you love. And that includes using a chainsaw and shotgun to eviscerate Deadites.
The film wastes no time diving into the darkness, even delivering some daytime unheavenly happenings. As terror weaves its way through the apartment, tension and suspense build with each scene creating palpable anticipation. But you’ll never be ready for what you are about to witness. With its 90s grunge and grim aesthetic, interesting backstory to part of the book’s origins, and subtle humor, horror fans, especially fans of gore, will be eating well for the next few weeks. The performances are strong, the cinematography is hauntingly fantastic, and the score is perfect. Cronin and company are sure to be in the good graces of the fanbase. Its rewatchability is high.
Pace & Pop
Excellently balancing a new identity along with franchise staples, this film is perfectly paced. With its tidy runtime of 97 minutes, there is no time for boredom, only seat-clinching, eye-averting terror. What popped for me had to be the gore. It’s not often that seeing flesh being peeled off of a face or a body getting tossed into a wood chipper bothers me, but there is something about seeing a cheese grater being used on someone that makes you cringe and is something you won’t forget.
Characters & Chemistry
Starring: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Gabrielle Echols, Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher, Billy Reynolds-McCarthy, Tai Wano, Jayden Daniels, Mirabai Pease, Richard Crouchley, Anna-Maree Thomas, Noah Paul, Mark Mitchinson, Melissa Xiao
While this ensemble did bloody amazing, Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan completely bodied their performances and stole the show. As Ellie, Sutherland is incredibly eerie, relentless, and terrifying. I mean, look at the poster. On the other hand, Sullivan harnesses her latent and ignored motherly instincts and ends up a complete badass that Ash would approve of.
Evil Dead Rise releases in theaters on April 21, 2023. Remain safe and keep a chainsaw handy.
Runtime: 1h 37m
Director: Lee Cronin
Writer: Lee Cronin
Producer: Rob Tapert
Executive Producers: Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, John Keville, Macdara Kelleher, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Romel Adam, Victoria Palmeri
Director of Photography: Dave Garbett
Production Design: Nick Bassett
Editor: Bryan Shaw
Costume Design: Sarah Voon
Score: Stephen McKeon
Evil Dead Rise reawakens the cult franchise and basks in gory glory.
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.