There is certainly a hefty dose of fresh blood in the tank here to make for a riotous experience.
BY JACK RANSOM APRIL 13, 2023
Evil Dead Rise sees a twisted tale of two estranged sisters (Alyssa Sutherland & Lily Sullivan) whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
It still baffles me that it has been 10 years since we last opened the Book of the Dead on the big screen (with the cult favourite yet fairly short lived Ash vs. Evil Dead TV show and multiplayer video game riding fans over). Taking the horror out of the woods and smack bang into the middle of The City of Angels, inside a claustrophobic, dilapidated high rise apartment block was a wise decision, as there is certainly a hefty dose of fresh blood in the tank here to make for a riotous experience.
Nailing the tone was always going to be a challenge. The Evil Dead franchise has always trod the line between goofy and disturbing, with Raimi’s original trilogy pumping up the campiness and Fede Alvarez’ savage reboot doubling down on a serious gritty approach. Evil Dead Rise manages to find the sweet spot in between the two and switches seamlessly from visual gags aplenty and rampant foul mouthed hell-spawn, to wince inducing brutality and outright terror.
The first act allows for a decent amount of time to be spent with the family. Their myriad of quirky personalities/hobbies and snappy chemistry make for an engaging bunch and (Ash aside), are certainly the most memorable protagonists of the feature film franchise outings. When it all kicks off though it delivers exactly what the fans want. Pulse pounding pacing, a consistent wave of unpredictable tension, desperate survival, a myriad of brutal encounters before topping off with a suitably gory finale.
Cronin mentioned in the Q&A that 90% of the on-screen chaos was practically achieved and you can certainly see the level of quality. The film simply looks fantastic when it really begins to unleash the bloodshed. Cheese graters, broken glass, knives-a-plenty, face-biting (one moment in particular leads to an absolutely applaud worthy shot of slapstick grotesque-ness) and of course that old reliable chainsaw. Let’s just say there are also a few surprises when it comes to the Deadites design department as well, which is sure to please the faithful. Cronin also shoots the hell out of this with creative split diopters, Raimi-esque jolting, hectic POV shots and a grimy, yet slick visual colour palette.
Alyssa Sutherland’s switch from caring, quirky, tattooist mum Ellie, to the mother from hell: spewing verbal atrocities, screaming and utilising her wide-eyes to great use. There is certainly a blend of 2013’s protagonist Mia and a dabbling of Ash to Lily Sullivan’s down on her luck Aunt Beth, who has to step up to the bloody plate as her and the kids desperately attempt to survive. Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher and Gabrielle Echols all deliver as well and it’s rare in a horror flick for the kids not to be annoying, but Cronin pulled it off.
Evil Dead Rise is a wild, well paced and unique spin on the familiar formula. It may not reinvent the wheel with its characters and (though still satisfyingly gory) it doesn’t match the visceral nature of 2013. However, it provides shlock for days, great practical effects and inventive new designs, genuine laughs and solid performances. The title card drop is also an absolute banger.