Review: Evil Dead Rise

Not to sound prudish, but this entry in the franchise was just a bit… unpleasant.

Ellie, a single mother of three after her partner left her, struggles to raise her kids in their soon-to-be-condemned flat in an old city block. When her sister, Beth, visits, a freak earthquake opens up a hidden vault within the building’s foundations…

Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead trilogy is a staple of any good Halloween event. They are tremendously 80s, surprisingly goofy and silly, but also scary and full of memorable imagery. The original was remade back in 2013 by Fede Alvarez, and provided to be quite decent compared to most remakes of classic properties.
The franchise remained in the public eye with a TV series, Ash Vs The Evil Dead, but now we have a new entry from director Lee Cronin.

Relative newcomer Lee Cronin is cutting his teeth here, and for the most part, it is well-realized horror movie. Scenes are draped in atmosphere, the production value is good, the visual effects and make-up are all on point for the most part. So for a debut into major cinema, Cronin could have done a lot worse.

No one shall be seated when… Well, simply no one shall be seated.

So what’s bothersome about it?

Acting like a sort of anthology sequel, as it has no direct ties to previous movies, the perplexingly named Evil Dead Rise, is set in an old apartment building. We are quickly told that the building used to be a bank and is being torn down soon.
With exception to the weird and wild Army of Darkness, the first two Evil Dead films were set in the woods, in isolation. Here we have a whole building in a busy city. The film acquits itself well enough at first: an earthquake reveals a hidden vault, and one of Ellie’s kids goes in to investigate, hoping to find something that they can sell and fix the family’s financial troubles. Unfortunately, he finds the notorious Book of the Dead.

The kids take the giant old elevator back up, to which the mother reprimands them (rightly so) for taking an elevator after an earthquake. Later (and all of this takes place in one night) Ellie takes the elevator and gets possessed by one of the series’ Deadites.

Now… this misstep, like so many horror and thriller films before, undoes a lot of the film going forward. Her kids shouldn’t take the elevator after an earthquake but she can??

Don’t you do it. Don’t you even think about it.

Naturally, things go bad to worse from there. What is surprising, and quite grim, about this film is its protagonists. We are used to horror movie “cannon fodder” being young and dumb 20 or 30-somethings, we don’t care; most of them having it coming for one reason or another. Classic. But Evil Dead Rise‘s principle cast are… children. Okay, you surmise, the neighbours are the cannon fodder. They can’t… kill and mutilate the kids… right?


Ultimately, the Evil Dead Rise is not the black comedy and ultimately victorious romp we have seen from the franchise’s past. The apple has fallen a long way from the Sam Raimi tree (a good example that a director’s name in the Executive Producer role means jack-diddly to the film’s quality) and what we have is a pretty nasty, uncompromising movie.

All of this isn’t to factor in that, despite this being a struggling family being torn apart (literally) there wasn’t much emotion or heartache. The characters are plot devices, which the film looks at without real empathy.

It is still a good looking film; it has great production value and a heavy atmosphere. It also does bring some creative visuals and concepts to the franchise, thanks to it taking place in an American apartment block. No real jump scares, but some eerie visuals and clever shot compositions are dotted throughout. It should also be said that Alyssa Sutherland is playing the heck out of being a Deadite. Certainly a challenging and central role to the film, but she delivers some really visceral performances here. Not to be forgotten.

Primarily recommended to horror junkies.

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