An estranged family is terrorized when a demonic entity possesses one of their own. Written and directed by Lee Cronin, Evil Dead Rise brings the horrifying Deadites back to the big screen to make audiences squirm with new frights. And as the fifth entry to the Evil Dead franchise, it proves there’s still more to explore within the pages of the Necronomicon.
Heavily caught up in her career, it’s been some time since Beth (Lily Sullivan) has checked in with her older sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland). She drops in unannounced and realizes that Ellie is now raising her three kids alone and soon to be kicked out of their crumbling old apartment.
What should be a somewhat happy reunion is rocked by an earthquake, which unearths the old bank vault beneath their building. Ellie’s oldest, Danny (Morgan Davies), can’t help but snoop around and comes across an old book and records.
Though the depictions in the book are disturbing, Danny remains curious about what’s on the recordings. After playing one that utters a Latin inscription from the book, something demonic is unleashed, setting its sights on Ellie and everyone she comes in contact with.
The creation of Sam Raimi, Evil Dead has long been a franchise beloved by horror fans. With three films, a reboot, and a television series, it has had remarkable staying power. As a big fan of what Fede Álvarez did with Evil Dead (2013), I was disappointed when his direct sequel was scrapped. Though, the letdown subsided when we got the first trailer for Cronin‘s vision.
Something somewhat unique and much appreciated about Evil Dead, as a whole, is that Raimi, original producer Rob Tapert, and original series star Bruce Campbell have always stayed close to the franchise as executive producers, ensuring it maintains certain elements. And with that, Evil Dead Rise did not disappoint.
Trading in the secluded cabin location, Evil Dead Rise places the horror high up in a foreboding apartment building in downtown Los Angeles. Setting-wise, the film does a great job within the confines of the space. It managed to make the decaying art-deco high-rise a character in itself, with a moody atmosphere that serves as a playground for the parasitic demons.
It does a wonderful job setting up the family dynamics and the contentious relationship between the sisters, slightly alluding to a conflicted bond with their mother. That theme of motherhood and maternal instincts is very present in the film. Though it never overshadows the story.
Overall, I loved the pacing. It kicks things off with a bang before reeling things in to set up this family about to be put through hell. Performances are strong throughout the exposition bits and continue as tensions rise. For our main possessee, Sutherland does an impeccable job of delivering an unsettling portrayal. From her unnerving stare to her unnatural movements, she makes for a remarkably terrifying villain of sorts.
The kills are just as brutal and inventive as ever — you’ll truly never look at a cheese grater the same. While they’re sometimes outlandish (in the best way), they often have a twisted humor to them that feels so familiar with this franchise as a whole.
Evil Dead Rise seems focused on taking the series to new heights while embodying what fans love about the original Evil Dead. There’s fun to be had, nightmares to be seen, and I’m excited to see where the Deadites rise next.
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