Evil Dead Rise
Dir. Lee Cronin (2023)
A young woman returns home to visit her sister and her family, but she gets more than she bargained for when her nephew unearths the Necronomicon.
Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead is one of the most influential indie horrors ever made, a cartoonish portrayal of the living dead with some resourceful camera work, creative use of stop motion animation, and the some of the trippiest special effects in horror history. Fede Alvarez' 2013 remake upped the ante, changing Raimi's classic comedy into straight up blistering horror. Using gallons (and gallons) of blood and some stellar gore, Alvarez' gross-out addition to the franchise quickly became arguably horror fans' favorite remake ever. Director Lee Cronin now takes his shot, and horror fans have been anxiously awaiting his effort to see if it measures up. And boy howdy does it.
Evil Dead Rise is about a young family with some growing pains, namely the recent departure of the father and an upcoming eviction from their rundown high-rise apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Mom Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is distraught, and it doesn't help things when her sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) arrives with some big news. After an earthquake nearly swallows them whole, Ellie's kids Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies), and Kassie (Nell Fisher) find an old book made from human skin and a set of records containing odd recordings from an underground bank vault upon which their apartment was built. Fans of the series can guess where this is heading, and, true to the rest of the films and television series, absolutely no one is off limits as Ellie becomes possessed and uses her motherly abilities to prey on her sister and children.
Cronin pulls approximately zero punches as people are chopped, shot, and burned alive (as well as the teased cheese gratered) in a movie that was even more brutal than I imagined it would be. The film is nasty, brutal as hell, and a raucous love letter to fans of the series, and Cronin definitively models his film after Alvarez' remake than the campy original. Sutherland's Ellie delivers some of the most chilling lines since 1987's Hellraiser, like her terrifying insistence that "Mommy is with the maggots now" from the trailer. Cronin, who also wrote the film, uses his family setting to make the brutality all the more painful, and there's something just inherently wrong with a mother trying to mercilessly destroy her children.
The Evil Dead Rise trailer looked particularly scary, and if you were one of the hundreds of thousands of people who had to watch the scarier scenes from behind your fingers, I promise you it won't disappoint. (X) (Rev Horror is the best and totally awesome.) There were numerous scenes that had me jumping out of my seat, and several times an audible scream rang out over the audience during some of the film's scarier sequences. The effects are, in a word, phenomenal, and even some of the more back-breaking stunts were actually performed on camera in keeping with the practical tradition of the series. The Deadites are scary as hell, even more terrifying than in the previous films, and as much of that is due to the fantastic performance by Alyssa Sutherland than it is the incredible makeup job applied by the team (though they should be applauded as well for their stellar work.)
I've never been the biggest Evil Dead fan. Don't get me wrong, I love the films, just not as much as some of the people who have been drawn to the cult series. That being said, I was a huge proponent of Alvarez' remake, believing immediately that the initial outrage would eventually turn to love from the fans. Evil Dead Rise is perhaps even better, a departure from the original series in both location and scope while maintaning the outrageous, mean-spirited savagery of the earlier films. To say that I absolutely loved this one would be an understatement, and much like Alvarez' film, this is not one that you have to be a fan of the originals to enjoy. It's going to absolutely blow people away, and it's well worth the hype.
Who this movie is for: Evil Dead fans, Brutal horror lovers, Elevator repairmen
Bottom line: Brutal, nasty, and with a mean streak a mile wide, Evil Dead Rise is a fucking hit. Continuing with the tradition of the remake but on a larger scale, it's a love letter to the fans while blazing its own blood-soaked trail of guts and gore. I've got to give a special shout out to Warner Brothers for inviting me to check out the film early, and it was a true honor to get to watch it on the big screen (and it's the first of the series I have seen in theaters). Director Lee Cronin does a phenomenal job with his addition to the series, and I can't praise the cast enough for the magnificent job that they did scaring the pants off of me. Highly, highly, highly recommended that you check this one out when it opens on April 21st in theaters nationwide.