Evil Dead Rise Review

Reviews Films


2013 saw the release of Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead. At its time, a welcome remake of Sam Raimi’s original college film affair. With Raimi producing, Evil Dead 2013 dumped the playful, schlocky camp horror of the original beloved cult trilogy (or duology) of films in favour of a more intense horror experience and delivered in spades.

This Thursday Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert along with newcomer Lee Cronin deliver an unparalleled addition to the franchise. The film centres on a diabolical and malevolent entity that delights in possessing the innocent and driving its victims to madness with perverse acts of violence and depravity.

Evil Dead Rise, in short, is an hour and thirty six minutes of absolute fucking joy. Writer and director Lee Cronin’s career will be one to watch, with this latest masterpiece in heart racing horror being only his second full feature film, following the superb The Hole in the Ground. Cronin delivers a fresh take on the Evil Dead series, weaving new and welcome ideas into the lore.

The rest of this article will have spoilers. If you wish to savour the experience of a new, devilish Evil Dead flick spoiler free, skip to the last paragraph of this article and get your butt down to your local big screen. Run, don’t hesitate, as Evil Dead Rise is a must see for any and all horror film aficionado.

Evil Dead Rise is not just the best Evil Dead movie. It is the best horror movie in a long while, for a post pandemic lockdown world. The film is thin in baggage, delivering non-stop intense performances with a simple, slick plot. Lee Cronin is willing to get under your skin and embrace a few anxiety-inducing filmmaking techniques, something not often experienced in the current generation of horror cinema. Both cinematography by Dave Garbett and chilling music by Stephen McKeon married well with Cronin’s style and Bryan Shaw’s excellent editing.

That’s just the spine tingling atmosphere. The payoff to each intense scene by scene confrontation, executed using practical effects at all times (or really, really subtle CG enhancement), pulls no punches. They’re rolling out blood by the tanker load here. The frequent, high-impact violence on display makes one wonder, what did they have to cut to get an R rating? Evil Dead Rise boldly makes the statement, ‘meat’s back on the menu, boys!’

The synopsis: Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) lives in a condemned LA apartment building with her kids Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher). Ellie’s sister Beth (Lilly Sullivan) drops in for a catch up, right as a typical LA earthquake cracks open a hole in the basement. As the hundred year old building used to be a bank, this new subterranean entrance opens up a long buried vault. Danny investigates, discovering everyone’s favourite book of the dead. However, it’s not so much the book that is the problem this time around. It is the small stack of vinyl recordings (rumoured uncredited cameo by Bruce Campbell), translating the incantation. Playback of these summons an entity which quickly possesses and consumes Ellie. Meanwhile, Beth and Co. discover that the earthquake has trapped them inside the building. This kicks off a night of sheer terror as the entity spreads between victims, rending and raking flesh along the way.

Evil Dead Rise acts as a very unsubtle allegory to extreme pandemic lockdown, giving us a family trapped together in isolation while trying to survive murdering one another. An explanation of the possession spreading like a contact virus further hammers home this point. Cronin also sprinkles loving homage to horror history. Watch out for a number of subtle and not so subtle nods to The Shining and the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The only downside is, it is possible to over indulge in campy callbacks and cues to earlier films in the series, but your mileage on this point may vary.

Alyssa Sutherland’s turn as a possessed Ellie deserves special mention. Sutherland’s performance is truly terrifying with each nod, tick or contortion during her character’s devolution. She stares down the lens with genuine menace and conveys a threatening emotional void behind that dead eye make up. It is difficult to believe her when she says that she’s not a horror person. However, she’s not alone here in giving it her all as each character actor featured in Evil Dead Rise is knocking it out of the park, no matter how small their role.

In summary, Evil Dead Rise is a triumph of low budget horror filmmaking ($12 million: IMDb) and deserves the love it is getting from fans. Prospects for a sequel are good at this point, though it may be downhill from here. Evil Dead Rise is in cinemas this Thursday, the film easily rates 9/10. Don’t believe that one random naysayer, shouting negativities from his booth. This film rocks and it rocks hard.

You can also watch our interview with Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan here.

Luke is writing short stories, screenplays and film reviews when he's not at the day job or looking after the needs of his family. So one Powerball...