It has been ten years since the last Evil Dead film took to the theaters, and five years since Ash vs. Evil Dead graced the streaming/TV screen. With the talk of Deadites seemingly left in the past, Evil Dead Rise is trying something new again. One of the most talked about changes is the scenery, as this supernatural terror takes place in the city—and not in a medieval one like in Army of Darkness.
Evil Dead Rise is about two estranged sisters whose reunion in their apartment is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, forcing them into a battle for survival close to home—as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable. Ellie has three children of varying ages, each with distinct personalities—while Beth was a constantly travelling audio technician for a band. Of course, the classic Necronomicon aka The Book of the Dead is still the common factor that sets everything in motion, with a slight modern twist.
Alyssa Sutherland’s Ellie being the main possessed one (aka she turns into a Deadite) may have been one of the best performances compared to the others in the previous films. She is a vicious antagonist with funny quips to die for. Even Lily Sullivan’s Beth works well as she is quite a reliable protagonist in the actions she takes—like protecting Ellie’s children at all costs and getting to the bottom of what is happening in the apartment. She is kind of like Ash Williams in the TV series, but a lot less childish and more serious.
Through the return of the chainsaw killings and the gorefest, this film may have had one of the most brutal deaths or bodily injuries of them all. And the last one had 70,000 gallons of fake blood used throughout the film. The director Lee Cronin reportedly used about 6,500 litres (roughly 17,000 gallons) of fake blood for this film—a lot less but arguably more impactful.
The practical effects in Evil Dead Rise strive to keep the roots of the world created by Sam Raimi, with a lot of the props and close-up gags appearing to use less VFX or CGI. The film’s use of clear, physical props was amazing to me because the shots of the characters going through the torture porn of painful, questionable choices made me truly wince. It gave me Saw vibes, pushing the genre of showing things like what would happen if a human swallowed glass without any issues—or what would it look like if you cheese-grated someone’s skin (big ouch!).
“The practical effects in Evil Dead Rise strive to keep the roots of the world created by Sam Raimi, with a lot of the props and close-up gags appearing to use less VFX or CGI.”
Despite this being another soft reboot to the franchise, Cronin understood the assignment. He kept a lot of the tropes from the original Evil Dead trilogy at interesting moments, hitting similar story beats that Ash went through, minus that Bruce Campbell flair. I think it was smart to keep that sibling/family core story element, something the 2013 reboot did really well. It can be a very overlooked rule in the Evil Dead series because Ash never mentions losing his sister Cheryl too much beyond the first film (returns in Evil Dead: The Game)—great to see how the modern films show more trauma.
Without getting into spoiler territory, Evil Dead Rise really propelled some of the staple characteristics and scenes from the OG Evil Dead films. Just throwing out some iconic moments, there have been various takes of the disturbing sexualization of the tree branch hentai tentacles taking one of its victims; the trap door, the vomiting of bodily fluids or blood; and the shots of the Book of the Dead.
All of these movie memories were all things I took great pleasure from in the previous films, and Evil Dead Rise had a slight lacklustre take. It is an awesome throwback to past iterations, but I think just including it is not enough. I would have liked to see either a more terrifying take on them, or an elevated version of it. The cheesy camera work of the Kandarian demon sweeping through the forest also made its return, along with it zooming through the city now. I enjoyed the nod to it near the beginning of the film and how Cronin teases us by breaking some of those old rules.
“Evil Dead Rise will definitely keep you up at night, making you think about human mutilations, and how much blood the human body has—but in a good, horror way.”
The lovely Dutch angle shots were a nice Raimi-ism touch, last seen in his directing on Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness. Cronin’s use of mixing an extreme close-up shot and a wide-angle shot seems to be his own specialty because it definitely made me feel a little unsettled. It is also a smart shot of showing the audience an unsettling moment while the other characters are completely oblivious. The close-ups using the apartment door peephole also added another uncomfortable level to it all.
It is hard not to compare the Scream franchise with Evil Dead Rise because each genre-defining horrors are going through a modernization phase. As of right now, I think Evil Dead Rise feels like it is somewhere between Scream 4 and Scream (2022)—in terms of comparing reboots/sequels. Slashers versus supernatural forces are two very separate genres of horror but this cultural shift of modernizing classics has an evident resurgence. I say this with the hope that the Cronin-verse version of Evil Dead can continue to explore the modern horrors of the Necronomicon—and can reinvent itself in a newer, more fun way.
Evil Dead Rise will definitely keep you up at night, making you think about human mutilations, and how much blood the human body has—but in a good, horror way. If you have been craving more Evil Dead content, this one will not disappoint as it built more lore alongside the classics. I hope to see more of Cronin’s direction for the series going forward, provided it does not get scrapped and takes another ten years for the next film to rise up again.