Evil Dead Rise
April 21st, 2023
MOVIE: EVIL DEAD RISE
STARRING: LILY SULLIVAN, ALYSSA SUTHERLAND, GABRIELLE ECHOLS, MORGAN DAVIES, NELL FISHER
DIRECTED BY: LEE CRONIN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
It’s too easy to say, ‘It’s an Evil Dead movie” or claim, “You know what you are getting” when you walk into Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise. But that is a factor to consider and what works for some will not work for others. For myself, Evil Dead does not hold a special place in my heart but I am aware of the horror community surrounding the work of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. What I can say is that Evil Dead Rise is completely on its own path, still paying tribute to the original movies of the past, delivering plenty of gore, and creating some new chainsaw-wielding heroes to love along the way. There’s blood, broken limbs, possessed people, and did I mention blood? Evil Dead Rise understands the assignment and emerges on top.
The major theme in this Evil Dead, something that feels completely fresh, is the concept of family. It begins with Beth (Lily Sullivan), a guitar tech touring with a rock band, sitting alone and discovering that she is pregnant. It’s in this moment of fear that she decides to visit her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three kids- Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and youngest Kassie (Nell Fisher). The apartment complex is a dilapidated mess, with a creaky elevator, and constantly blinking lights, but it’s a moment for Aunt Beth to connect. What wasn’t expected was a massive earthquake, opening a hole in the parking garage, and of course, Danny decides to take a mysterious book and vinyl records he finds in the hole. Once it’s brought inside weird things start happening and Mom Ellie becomes possessed by something sinister. This is where Evil starts to Rise.
What writer/director Lee Cronin instantly understands is that Evil Dead is not a series that can stray far from what makes it work, but it can have new aesthetics. It’s not set in a cabin in the woods but it is a run-down apartment. What comes from the new location means all sorts of kitchen tools, from a cheese grater, carving knives, and a stove burner to bring tortuous bloodshed. It also means keeping things tight and when the possession sets in there’s no way out for Beth and the children. That creates a kind of tension we can touch and relate to. It also makes it that much more shocking when certain characters are sliced or diced.
The other two factors that help Evil Dead Rise work is nailing the gnarly makeup effects and having Lily Sullivan as your badass lead. Although there are some moments where the plot feels clunky due to proximity and child performances, Sullivan is the constant. The Australian actor carries herself with a raw and powerful confidence that instantly reminded me of Sigourney Weaver or Linda Hamilton. If Cronin’s goal was to find a conduit for Bruce Campbell’s Ash then he has greatly succeeded. It also helps when the makeup effects include nasty bursts of eyeballs ripped out, hands stabbed with glass and the sheer terror of a person morphing into a possessed Deadite. You throw on top of that what looks like a record-setting amount of blood and you are doing Evil Dead right.
How Terrifier 2 changed the standard for just how gory you can make your movie, some may see Evil Dead Rise as tame. They may want more of what they saw in Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead version. This Evil Dead has all of that and more. It has its blood and eats it too. There is genuine character-building, plenty of slashing, and relentless energy. There is also the terrifying turn by Sutherland, who plays it as a cross between Piper Laurie in Carrie and Linda Blair’s possessed Regan in The Exorcist. There’s really not much more you could ask for. I just hope everyone will praise the power of Lily Sullivan. She’s the new queen and Evil Dead Rise is horror done right.
EVIL DEAD RISE IS PLAYING IN THEATERS FRIDAY APRIL 21ST, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady