Evil Dead Rise Review: The “Evil Dead” franchise has achieved the impossible in the world of horror films: not a single film with the “Evil Dead” moniker has been bad. There have only been five “Evil Dead” movies in forty-plus years, and a large part of that is because series creator Sam Raimi is so selective about who he allows messing with his cool blood-soaked baby. But the basic simplicity of its premise is also a big part of what makes “Evil Dead” so effective (the wacky “Army of Darkness” excluded, of course).
Evil Dead Rise Review
Lee Cronin, an Irish writer, and director have helmed the latest installment in the series, titled “Evil Dead Rise.” Cronin’s 2019 debut feature, “The Hole in the Ground,” is also about sinkholes and maternal issues. Cronin has a grimier aesthetic than Sam Raimi’s live-action cartoons and is more in line with Fede Alvarez, the director of the remake. On the other hand, he has a similarly evil mind to Raimi in one crucial respect.
While the film’s promotional materials have focused on a single cheese grater scene, “Evil Dead Rise” actually features a wide variety of inventive slaughter. You name it, this film has it: bloodshot eyes, bloody hands, broken glass, shattered bones, severed limbs, severed heads, stab wounds, shotgun blasts, and sharp objects going straight through the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and back of the head. The blood alone would require thousands of gallons — enough to flood the elevator from “The Shining” and submerge two of the film’s leads for the final 20 minutes.
The film’s setting moves from a rustic cabin to a dilapidated Los Angeles apartment building, where a family is struggling to make ends meet. When Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), a single mother, is possessed by a Deadite early in the film, she begins psychologically and physically torturing her kids.
Her youngest, played by Nell Fisher, is only a little older than a child herself, but neither the ages nor the adolescence of her siblings, Danny (Morgan Davies) and Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) makes the tragic outcomes of their lives any easier to bear. Sicko juice is extracted from violence towards children, and this, combined with the extreme gore, makes “Evil Dead Rise” the grueling experience that any good “Evil Dead” film should be.
The film’s deviations from the standard “cabin in the woods” formula requires more time and exposition than usual, which threatens to disrupt the film’s fundamental “Evil Dead” simplicity. This is primarily a problem in the first act, which also features Ellie’s rock star sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) and an earthquake that causes a hole to appear in the floor of the parking garage, through which Danny discovers an old safe deposit vault containing some mysterious records that set everything in motion. The building’s previous life as a bank is just one of many plot twists that “Evil Dead Rise” must introduce before getting to the meat of the story.
But once “Evil Dead Rise” gets rolling, it doesn’t stop until the credits roll. The premiere at SXSW was met with hooting, cheering, and genuine screams of fear from the audience; this is a loud, giddy, crammed type of movie. One scene in particular in the film’s roller coaster of a middle portion seems bound to spark a lot of yelling at the screen in multiplexes around the world, and Cronin uses both jump scares and “look behind you!”
Even so, the film isn’t perfect. Despite being written by a man, the film’s pregnancy subplot is handled poorly, and the film’s cold opening is so arbitrary that an extra scene is needed to explain it. Physical performances (think complex rigging devices and ghastly prosthetic makeups) and gnarly gore are particularly impressive given the film’s relatively unknown cast and director. As soon as it stops trying to be clever and starts giving the audience what they want, “Evil Dead Rise” becomes a ton of fun.
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