Director – Lee Cronin (Minutes Past Midnight, Ghost Train)
Starring – Lilly Sullivan (Picnic at Hanging Rock, I Met a Girl), Alyssa Sutherland (The Mist, Vikings), and Richard Croughley (Blaze, Beautiful They)
Release Date – 2023
Rating – 4/5
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Evil Dead franchise. All three of the original films were a huge part of my childhood with Evil Dead II being a film that was constantly playing in my house. I’ve watched all the films countless times growing up on VHS and when I made the jump from tape to DVD I snagged the entire trilogy on DVD along with Raimi’s Spider-Man and Little Nicky. I remember leaving K-Mart with my new DVD player looking forward to watching the remastered releases of three of my favorite horror films along with Adam Sadler’s best film. Since then I’ve played all the games as they were released along with the television series and reboot.
I love them all but I do like some more than others. When news broke that Bruce Campbell was retiring as Ash I was upset but I knew that the franchise would still stand on its own because Evil Dead 2013 is such a good film. I wanted to watch Evil Dead Rise on opening day but a friend of mine was having a birthday dinner and watch party the following week so I decided to hold off checking it out. I wish I would have seen it sooner but I’m grateful I was able to at all because I fucking loved it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a single mom and her three children who live in a dilapidated apartment building that is being demolished soon. After an earthquake her teenage son finds a hidden bank vault under the parking garage and after doing some urban spelunking he uncovers a hidden stash of religious artifacts along with an old book and two vinyl recordings. He plays the recordings and learns that this is one of the three ancient books and the spell spoken within soon awakens something sinister that takes over his mother forcing his aunt and siblings to fight for their lives in their apartment. **spoiler Alert**
I went into Evil Dead Rise excited but severely skeptical. I was so fucking pumped to watch another Evil Dead film in theaters but a part of me was worried that it would be a flick that was Evil Dead in title only. That was set aside fairly quickly when the film’s opening scene paid tribute to the original film. Evil Dead Rise may not top Evil Dead II or Evil Dead 2013 for me but it was a fucking blast from start to finish. I absolutely loved it and I fucking pray on anything that is holy or unholy that we don’t go another 10 years before we get a follow up to this one.
The acting in this one is great. I loved the entire cast and the characters that we get. A lot of thought went into the casting of this film and everyone does a fantastic job bringing their characters to life. We get a lot of energy, intensity, and a wide range of emotion from the cast. No one outshines the other and the consistent acting really helps keep the dark atmosphere and tone of the film.
The story for this one is a big jump from the traditional Evil Dead films but it still feels like a follow up of the reboot. The film focuses more on the darker side of the original Evil Dead trilogy with more emphasis on bodily mutilation and possession with no slapstick or humor. I love the humor found in Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, and Ash vs. Evil Dead but without Ash being the focal point of that it would fall apart. I like the approach the newer installments follow where they have strong female leads that pay tribute to Ash without replacing them. You spin that with the book’s backstory and the possession and you have something for existing Evil Dead fans along with new genre fans watching their first Evil Dead film.
Finally, this film is extremely violent and covered in blood. We get some great props ranging from the new book and set locations like the apartment that is falling apart and the hidden bank vault with religion iconography. However, what makes this one so enjoyable is the amount of blood and visceral moments. We do get some visual effects but they only compliment the practical effects which are unforgettable. These deaths and dismemberments are extremely fun and memorable. Overall, Evil Dead Rise is a fantastic modern entry that has some of the old charm that makes the other entries so fun but didn’t try to duplicate itself with a cabin in the woods story or an Ash clone. It’s a gritty follow up to Evil Dead 2013 with a great story progression and some great nods to the classic trilogy. I highly recommend it.