Evil Dead Rise (2023) Brings Deadite Carnage to New Heights
Title: Evil Dead Rise
First Non-Festival Release: April 19, 2023 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Lee Cronin
Writer: Lee Cronin
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Starring: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Nell Fisher
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
The Evil Dead series is a beloved franchise stemming from the 1980s and extending into the 2010s. Evil Dead Rise picks up the story in a new direction allowing it to exist within the existing cannon while still forging its own path.
After discovering that she is pregnant, Beth (Lily Sullivan) shows up at her sister Ellie’s (Alyssa Sutherland) door unexpectedly. While reconnecting with Ellie and her children, Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies), and Kassie (Nell Fisher), an earthquake ravages the city. Danny discovers something hidden in the depths of a bunker in the parking lot and retrieves some strange looking artifacts stashed away. Among the items is a copy of the infamous Necronomicon ready to unleash itself upon the unexpecting family.
A deliciously demented sequel, Evil Dead Rise is filled to the brim with unexpected scares, gallons of blood, and plenty of iconic lines.
Evil Dead Rise is one of the rare sequels to strike the perfect balance between paying respect to its source material while forging a new path for the franchise. Aside from the very off-beat [yet well-loved] Army of Darkness, most films in the Evil Dead franchise are firmly set in a creepy cabin in the woods. Evil Dead Rise doesn’t forget to pay homage to this fact, but still sets most of its story in a condemned high rise apartment complex. This is one of the many choices that help Evil Dead Rise differentiate itself while also justifying its place in the series. From the introduction to the Necronomicon to identifying new elements of inescapability, Evil Dead Rise works to earn the audience’s respect in accordance with the series’ gleefully sinister take on horror.
This legacy reboot nails the perfect tone for an Evil Dead movie without betraying the story it seeks to tell. While the franchise has always been known to explore different genres between entries, there has always been a campy element to Evil Dead. Thankfully, Evil Dead Rise understands what is necessary to balance the abject horror of its concept with plenty of humor.
Littered with iconic set pieces and some powerfully tense moments, Evil Dead Rise is a technical horror marvel. The film gets mighty creative with making an apartment building menacing while still tapping into real fears. From the unreachable fire escape [apt for a building clearly not up to code] and its sketchy parking garage to its wonky elevator, Evil Dead Rise crafts an isolated and hopeless atmosphere before a single word is even uttered from the Necronomicon. This makes it all too easy for the film to ratchet up the action once it dives into act two.
By then, it starts getting messy, but in a good way. Bathed in sickening amounts of blood and gore, Evil Dead Rise doesn’t skimp on bringing gorehounds exactly what they crave. Makeshift toys, construction equipment, and the infamous viral cheese grater all make notable appearances in this entry to keep the audience appropriately on edge. Despite its silliness, it never resorts to cartoonish levels of violence and still stays grounded in its supernatural evil.
Great performances from the entire cast add weight to the already commendable script. The central family makes for an easy-to-root-for downtrodden group of folks. Scatterbrained Beth and her sister’s realistically close and loving children have a genuinely awkward chemistry that fits perfectly for the dynamic of kids with a cool aunt who is off gallivanting across the globe. Each cast member plays their respective parts well-enough despite each character having their annoying moment under the sun.
Alyssa Sutherland’s Ellie, however, is on another level. Sutherland is tasked with handling the bulk of the script’s emotional, comedic, and horrific moments, and she does so spectacularly. Her delivery, both physically and verbally, is exceptional. Her vision of the desperate mother struggling internally with the powerful force inside her comes across clearly. She turns every scene into her own by her captivating choices, making the audience beg for more.
Evil Dead Rise shoots for the stars and knocks it out of the park, serving as a strong example of how to do a legacy reboot right. Memorable set pieces, killer dialogue, iconic performances, and a visceral edge to the comedy and gore make this one of the highest points in the franchise. Fans of Evil Dead will love it and casual moviegoers will find its tenacity admirable. Make sure you join Mommy and the maggots as soon as you can and catch it in theaters or on demand.
Overall Score? 8/10