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Evil Dead Rise Review

April 21, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Evil Dead Rise Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
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Evil Dead Rise Review  

Directed By: Lee Cronin
Written By: Lee Cronin
Runtime: 97 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, and some language

Lily Sullivan – Beth
Alyssa Sutherland – Ellie
Morgan Davies – Danny
Gabrielle Echols – Bridget
Nell Fisher – Kassie
Jayden Daniels – Gabriel
Mark Mitchinson – Mr. Fonda
Billy Reynolds-McCarthy – Jake
Tai Wano – Scott
Mirabai Pease – Teresa
Anna-Maree Thomas – Jessica
Richard Crouchley – Caleb

The iconic, classic horror franchise Evil Dead is revived yet again, 10 years since its last update. The 2013 Fede Álvarez remake was a success but didn’t garner any follow-ups. Call it a reboot or a remake, but Evil Dead Rise is a brand-new entry to the franchise, unencumbered by past installments. This is a remake from the ground up, and while it’s chock-full of references to the past entries, filmmaker Lee Cronin tells his own story here about a family that runs afoul of a malevolent, demonic force brought forth by the Naturom Demonto, aka “The Book of the Dead.”

Wayward roadie and guitar engineer Beth (Sullivan) just received some life-changing news, so she takes a trip to Los Angeles to visit her newly single older sister Ellie (Sutherland), who is a single mother raising three children: the musically inclined Danny (Davies); aspiring activist Bridget (Echols); and youngest daughter Kassie (Fisher). Unfortunately, a series of adverse events leads Danny to uncover a hidden vault in their dilapidated apartment building that will soon be demolished. The vault is the resting place for the Necronomicon, and Danny opens it, playing some accompanying vinyl records that provide incantations from the book. Danny’s actions unwittingly unleash a demonic force that takes hold of Ellie and soon wreaks havoc on the rest of her family. Unfortunately, there is no safe escape from the building, and the evil entity will stop at nothing until the entire family is dead.

There are no connecting threads between Cronin’s film and previous franchise entries. Even his film’s design of the Necronomicon looks unique compared to past versions. Evil Dead Rise is a wholly fresh entry for the film series, and it’s to the new film’s benefit.

The narrative prologue is shocking and familiar but gives away too much too soon. Arguably, it’s plain to see why the prologue opens the film since it provides the audience with some early shocks and scares. Otherwise, Evil Dead Rise would become too much of a slow burn. At the same time, it reveals too much of what will transpire later. The prologue mildly subverts expectations, but the narrative works better without such a prologue, letting events unfold naturally without the shocking opening.

Evil Dead Rise does not break new ground, but it is still well-made. Cronin does well with his actors and puts them in terrifying peril. Despite the prologue, the apartment building setting and the family as the central focus provide a nice change of pace compared to the older films, which are usually set in a rural cabin in the woods.

Sutherland’s transformation from a caring, compassionate single mom into a twisted, malignant entity is both haunting and devastating, along with the loss the family experiences. It’s a strong performance, along with Lily Sullivan, who must rise to the occasion to protect what remains of her family.

While Evil Dead Rise is filled to the brim with various homages and motifs from the previous entries, it does try some new things with the premise and the demonic entities. These do not appear to be the Deadites of the past. Cronin puts his own unique spin on the demonic creatures.

The kid actors are fine and play their roles well. There could have been more development to their characters to underscore the overall terror of their predicament and the tragedy of their loss. While the movie conducts a slow burn, once the blood, horror, and kills start, Cronin is ruthless and earns the film its R-rating. The blood and gore have a much more authentic cinematic horror look and style than the overly synthetic, cartoonish CG blood and spatter that are pervasive in horror and action films today.

Evil Dead Rise is a solid sophomore effort from filmmaker Lee Cronin and has the potential to spawn future installments. Whether producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell opt to continue from this iteration or wait for another decade for another theatrical installment remains to be seen.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Evil Dead Rise is a solid update and reboot of the franchise by horror filmmaker Lee Cronin. It's not working to expand the franchise and lore of past films but tells its own story, and Cronin puts a unique spin on the Evil Dead premise. Although the prologue gives away a bit too much too soon, the rest of the film is well done with solid acting performances and good old-fashioned cinematic horror blood and gore. The apartment building setting and the narrative focusing on the family unit provide a refreshing change of pace for the franchise.