Evil Dead Rise is part of the Evil Dead series of films, but it’s in no way directly tied to any of the films or the TV show; it’s more like a mention here or there, the presence of the book itself and lore, and some cool Easter eggs that connect this film to films of the past.
Although originally there was talk of a direct sequel to the Evil Dead 2013 remake as well as sequels to the original trilogy, none of that culminated, leaving us with this original tale written and directed by Lee Cronin, arguably a good idea since the movie reigns supreme as the biggest box office draw in the entire series.
So, if you haven’t seen the Evil Dead films that came before this one, it’s certainly simple to view this entry as a standalone film and enjoy it as it is. And believe me when I say, there’s lots to enjoy in this gore-fueled romp!
Though there’s a small prologue to the film (peep the swoon-worthy title card) that takes place in a lakeside cabin, this Evil Dead movie does something that earlier films haven’t – it completely changes location and is set in a crumbling Los Angeles high-rise apartment building, giving it an eerie air of claustrophobia.
And, instead of goofy teenagers who discover a cursed tome, this story follows, well, some goofy teenagers who belong to our main character, recently separated and super-cool tattoo artist mom, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), parent to teens Danny and Bridget and younger child Kassie.
On this particular day, Ellie’s sister Beth (Lily Sullivan), a traveling guitar tech, stops in to stay with the family after a run on the road. Beth also needs some quality time with her big sis, as she’s recently discovered she’s pregnant.
The sisters’ joyful reunion comes to a literal crashing halt as an earthquake occurs while the three kids are in the parking structure headed to Ellie’s car to pick up pizza for the group. The earthquake breaks open the ground dramatically, revealing a spooky secret cave full of creepy secrets. Should the kids go in? Of course not! Do they? Heck yes!
As you can imagine, nothing good comes out of breaking into a sealed, dark cave full of weird artifacts from the previous century, but burgeoning DJ Danny finds some slappin’ vinyls down there and brings them up to give them a spin on his makeshift turntable.
Let’s just say that some things are better left in a hole in the ground, and it’s not too long before Danny’s mom pays the consequences of her son’s curiosity. As panic rises in the apartment, Beth tries to protect the kids from their mom, who is now a full-blown Deadite, having been possessed by the chanting from the album, and we all know in this universe demon possession is more contagious than the common cold.
This film does a spectacular job of ratcheting up the tension as the family desperately tries to avoid being killed and/or possessed. I had read an article that said over 6,000 liters of fake blood were used in this film, and I had no idea how that was possible, but yes, it is evident once you see it.
Evil Dead Rise is a treat for every horror fan; best watched in a crowded theater. The gore is aplenty (including the teeth-grinding anxiety you’ll feel watching the now-infamous Cheese Grater Scene, and yes, cheese graters were included in press and promotional packages for the film) and the SFX artists were just showing off with some of the best and most realistic practical effects I have seen in any recent movies.
It’s simply stunning to watch, and the gritty gore made it easy to get invested in the horror of the story. Creative weaponry combined with scintillating scenery make this movie a fast-paced blast for genre fans.
I really liked the characters, too. You really feel empathy for the struggling single mom situation that Ellie is in, and the kids are pretty cool (mainly the youngest, Kassie, who has one of the weirdest yet most functional toys I have ever seen in her DIY doll/weapon, “Staffanie.”)
Beth is a likable character from the start, and I liked how realistic everyone’s lives seem, how messy, how imperfect – this makes the characters relatable, and therefore, more sympathetic.
The fear for the kindly neighbors (and their pets) inflates as Ellie’s demons can’t be contained, and the film culminates in a blood-soaked finale that offers nods to multiple movies including a clever and fun wink to the old Evil Dead films. I got a huge kick out of all of the references in this movie, including callbacks to older films like The Shining.
No, it’s not going to solve world hunger and it certainly isn’t rocket science, but if you’re a horror fan, and in particular, a fan of the Evil Dead series, there is plenty for you to love in this newest New Line entry. And as far as performances go, I believe Sutherland’s performance as maniacal mom Ellie is incredible; she is stellar in this role, and absolutely terrifying! I hope to see her in even more movies, especially horror.
There isn’t much bad to say about this movie at all, really — and yes, it is open-ended, but will they make another modern Evil Dead film? No word on that – yet! But hey, there’s no shortage of ‘dumb teenagers’ who always go poking around where they shouldn’t, so who knows?
Bruce Campbell* hinted in interviews that putting one out every few years would be ideal, but only time will tell how long the Necronomicon will be left to gather dust. Hopefully not another 10 years!
*Note: Bruce Campbell cameos in this film as one of the voices on the vinyl Danny finds in the cave as an homage to a “time-displaced” Ash.Become a Patron!
Images were purchased via MovieStillsDB and CineMaterial to be used for review purposes.