Incredibly, ten years have passed since the last Evil Dead Rise motion picture. The 2013 soft reboot by Fede Lvarez has gotten better with age as more and more people give it another go. The same is true of the Ash vs. Evil Dead series, which only lasted for three seasons but has since come to be greatly cherished. It’s reasonable to say that following Evil Dead Rising, we won’t have to wait as long to see this franchise return. The most recent book in the series is an independent tale that moves the deadite mayhem from a deserted cottage in the woods to a dilapidated apartment building in Los Angeles. Sam Raimi, the original creator-director of The Hole in the Ground, personally chose Irish director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground), and it is immediately clear why. Style, brutality, and most importantly, bloodshed are all present in Evil Dead Rise.
We follow guitar tech Beth (Lily Sullivan), who finally stops traveling to see her rather distant sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her children in their LA apartment. The family made up of big sister Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), little sister Kassie (Nell Fisher), and brother Danny (Morgan Davies), love each other fiercely despite their differences and have remained together after their father’s recent departure. One night, Aunt Beth makes a comeback and makes every effort to make up for lost time. The family is about to leave the dilapidated complex that will shortly be demolished, so it might already be too late. The children find the ancient Book of the Dead and decide to stay permanently when a strong earthquake prompts them to explore a room hidden beneath the parking garage, which ties back to the building’s earlier connections to the church.
For those who had doubts that Evil Dead would be successful outside of the traditional cabin in the woods location, writer-director Lee Cronin expertly handles this awful LA apartment setting. The decision to relocate to the city does have a good rationale, for those fans who are even more worried about the plot. The Book of the Dead, or Necronomicon, in Sam Raimi’s original movie or even in Evil Dead Rising is not the same (2013). In fact, according to Cronin, it’s the final of the three volumes that Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) encounters while on his Army of Darkness mission. Similar to previous examples, the book in Evil Dead Rise is bound in flesh and contains blood-smeared text on its pages. The gruesome demon imagery in this book, in contrast to the other two, is so horrifying that it will stay with you forever.
In Evil Dead Rising, a new variety of deadite is introduced to the series along with a brand-new Necronomicon that is locked by teeth no less. Mother Ellie, the first to become possessed and who will soon become the mother of all, is our major antagonist. With sprinklings of shockingly great dark comedy and frequently outlandish gore, Lee Cronin upholds Sam Raimi’s essence while making you shudder in your seat. Despite this, Cronin continues to look for new opportunities to diversify and etch his unique mark on the franchise. Mother Ellie and our new variety of deadite, which are a little less hysterical than what fans are accustomed to, serve as examples of this. Even though Evil Dead Rise contains copious amounts of blood, vomit, and self-mutilation to satisfy even the most ardent fans, it all adheres to Cronin’s rigid and far more straightforward style.
Alyssa Sutherland’s mother Deadite is without a doubt the real star of this fresh take on Evil Dead. Before the demons arrive, she does a terrific job of humanizing her motherly role despite having likely the most material to work with. When Sutherland reaches full deadite, she continues to maintain Lee Cronin’s particular tone while hamming it up whenever she gets the chance. One of the biggest reasons to keep watching Evil Dead Rise for years to come is her mother demon, who is unquestionably a new standout favorite from the series. With her, Lily Sullivan’s Beth, another fearsome Scream Queen, is present. Without the lethal dynamic between the primary sister, the devastating grief of a family tearing itself apart from the inside, wouldn’t function. And Sullivan comes through when Beth needs to stand up to the plate with a shotgun and chainsaw in hand.
With Evil Dead Rise, Lee Cronin will certainly demonstrate his love for split diopter shots if nothing else. Putting jokes aside, the film’s fundamental cinematography is designed to create the appearance of splitting the screen with a hazy deep focus. The approach is used throughout the entire film by Cronin and cinematographer David Garbett, and while it does successfully evoke a feeling of dread and sickness, it may have become overused to the point where it begins to err on the side of style over content. Fans will undoubtedly debate this, but you would be dishonest if you said it didn’t result in some of the film’s most horrifying sights. Even if it goes too far, you have to respect a horror movie that doesn’t second guess its decisions. Cronin attacked the project head-on, as any director of an Evil Dead movie ought to.
Finally, this brings up the few, glaring flaws in Evil Dead Rising. Although Lee Cronin’s more direct style does give the franchise some new flavor, it lacks the trademark tongue-in-cheek quality required for when our main hero tries to utter an Ash-like oneliner at the conclusion. This movie also suffers with mother Ellie being the only deadite with a real personality. It feels particularly wasteful when these same persons become possessed and all that material isn’t utilized to give the deadites a bigger screen presence. Some apparent character qualities are simply left as window dressing. There is no disputing that Evil Dead Rising may be adored and loved for all the fresh ideas it offers while paying tribute to Sam Raimi. Nonetheless, it must be said that it falls short of Evil Dead’s highs just a little bit (2013).
Fortunately, Lee Cronin has other tricks up his sleeve that not even ardent followers of this series will anticipate. From the very outset, the director is having a blast setting up visual signals for some nasty and incredibly memorable kills. In this regard, Evil Dead Rising displays amazing creativity as it makes the most of its Los Angeles apartment location. There is no shortage of inventive gore to be found here, from elevator wires to ink cannons to cheese grades. Above all, Evil Dead Rise’s third act delves into a subject so dark and vile that, in the best-case scenario, it could have been lifted straight out of a Dead Space computer game. This franchise still has plenty of life left, provided it is managed properly. It’s that kind of third act.
It would be unfair to have fans of this franchise wait another ten years to experience more of the bloody thrill rush that is Evil Dead Rising. Evil Dead will live long and prosper as long as Sam Raimi, along with producers Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert, remain involved. There is a genuine possibility to preserve this classic horror film in the public eye, if only for a little while longer, now more than ever. Despite a few small hitches, Evil Dead Rising proved to be an excellent entry point for younger viewers. Everything is there, and there are even some visually startling shocks. It’s absurd to think that this film almost streamed on HBO Max right away. When anything this blatantly horrible belongs on the big screen, assemble your closest buddies.
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