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Evil Dead Rise Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Ten years after the reboot, Evil Dead makes a comeback to the silver screen with this new instalment, taking a new approach to the franchise.

Genre: Horror

Director: Lee Cronin

Cast: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher, Jayden Daniels, Richard Crouchley, Mirabai Pease & Anna Maree-Thomas.

Run Time: 97 min.

US Release: 21 April 2023

UK Release: 21 April 2023

German Release: 27 April 2023

I am a big fan of this horror franchise, having been introduced to it in my early twenties during University time. Though I am up in arms with the original flick, I still consider it to be a solid entry into the genre, just like an astonishing accomplishment for a directorial debut. That said, I adore the two sequels and the reboot! With the announcement of a fifth instalment to be released this year, it quickly ranked top of my “ Most Anticipated” list. I am happy to announce that it did not disappoint at all! So, with that out of the way, grab your chainsaws, as we descend into the dark pits of my Evil Dead Rise review.

This fifth chapter of the horror saga explores the twisted tale of two estranged sisters, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-eating demons. Forced into a primal battle for survival, they must confront the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

Plans for a fifth, as well as a sixth Evil Dead flick, date back to 2013 when Álvarez’s reboot had been theatrically released. At the time, it was planned to do a sequel to the new timeline, with Sam Raimi shooting Army of Darkness 2, then merging the plots of Ash and Mia in a seventh chapter. Those plans never came to fruition, with Army of Darkness 2 becoming the brilliant series Ash vs Evil Dead, released on Starz.

With the cancellation of the Series in 2019, the hope was that Fede Álvarez would pen a script for a sequel to his reboot, Unfortunately, he was busy with his own creation’s sequel for Don’t Breath. Sam Raimi then announced in October 2019 that a new Evil Dead was in development, updating fans in 2020 that he handpicked Irish filmmaker Lee Cronin not only to direct but to write the script. The former title of Evil Dead Now was replaced in 2021, by its current name.

Cronin manages to infuse the screenplay with a breath of fresh air, as the setting is moved away from the lonely cabin in the woods, to a derelict apartment building in Los Angeles, scheduled to be torn down. There is also an attempt to bring more substance to the plot, as it switches out the targets, from a group of friends to family members. As such, the stakes are more serious, with losses feeling more emotional. It was also surprising to see that every single character is in danger of dying, including little children. It also links the other movies in a brief explanation on vinyl, about the trifecta of Necronomicons.

That said, as good as the script is, it is also the weakest part of the picture. The reason is that it doesn’t flesh out the family enough. Yes, short introductions are made, though there is no substantial exploration of the characters. As such, everyone feels exposable.

As stated above, the story focuses this time around on a family in a rundown apartment complex. There are further tenants, however, these are written very shallowly, serving primarily as meat bags for the demonic entity to consume.

As stated above, the story focuses this time around on a family in a rundown apartment complex. There are further tenants, however, these are written very shallowly, serving primarily as meat bags for the demonic entity to consume.

Lilly Sullivan plays the leading protagonist Beth. A guitar technician for a rock band, who leaves mid-tour, having figured out something about herself. She goes to Los Angeles, to visit her estranged sister, as well as nieces and nephew. Tensions are high between the two siblings, yet it is only implied that it is because Beth put her family at a distance, preferring the company of the band. Lilly Sullivan does a fine job with what she is given, though her character isn’t explored enough for us to care if she survives or not.

Alyssa Sutherland gives the best performance as Ellie, the single mother of three children and sister to Beth. While her introduction doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking acting-wise, she cranks up her skills the moment her character gets possessed. Her dialogues plus actions directed at children, will leave jaws-dropped open. It is a testament to her profession, as well as to her talent. Unfortunately, the persona of Ellie isn’t given much profoundness, as such one doesn’t feel much remorse for her once she gets taken, as much as for her children, who lost a mother.

Then we have Morgan Davies as Danny, Ellie’s only son. Davis gives a solid rendition as a rebellious teenager, with a hobby for music. It is he who finds the Book of the Dead, together with some records. Gabrielle Echols plays the oldest daughter Bridget, who is an activist.

Nell Fisher, the youngest of the cast, gave an equally impressive performance as Kassie, Ellie’s youngest child. Kassie is the character audiences will care most for, simply because she is still a kid plus because of her attachment to her mother and siblings. The most horrifying notion early on is that all bets are off the table, with a possibility that even Kassie might get taken.

Contrary to the screenplay being the weakest component of the premise, the camera work is its strongest feature! Cronin, together with cinematographer Dave Garbett, managed to emulate Sam Raimi’s style perfectly! From the introductory title segment to some of the creepiest use of depth of field, it all screams Raimi! Fisheye lenses, emulating the look through a door’s peephole, are used in ways I have never seen before. Low-angle shots, the signature first-person speed-up, meant to represent the demonic force, all add to the terror.

In comparison to the 2013 reboot, the colour here is stronger, less faded. However, the lighting is really dark. Effects are mostly practical, with some CG included. Considering the intensity of gore, Álvarez’s version wins the competition. Don’t get me wrong, this one is deliciously bloody, containing some visually disturbing scenes. Nonetheless, it isn’t as gory as its predecessor, focusing more on tension.

Stephen McKeon, who co-worked with the director on his previous picture The Hole in the Ground, composed the score for the film. Staying true to this horror series, the music creepily builds up until reaching its blasting, bone-chillingly crescendo.


Verdict: I realise my review might sound harsh along some points, though only because I am a big fan of the franchise, with Evil Dead 2 being my favourite. That said, Lee Cronin’s new instalment is my second favourite in the series. The screenplay gave the premise a much-needed change in tone and setting, ramping up the stakes as the victims aren’t mindless, horny teenagers. This time around a family is being torn apart, and children are getting hurt physically and psychologically. Nevertheless, my biggest critique is the fact that the characters aren’t fleshed out enough, as such audiences can not relate, leaving the emotional component amiss. Still, the performances given are good, with Alyssa Sutherland knocking it out of the park, as the possessed mother Ellie. The cinematography is brilliant, recreating the style of Sam Raimi perfectly. Little homages are given to other horror movies, most notably The Shining. The effects are practical with some VFX blended in between. Evil Dead Rise is a contender for this year's best horror, deserving an 8.0 out of 10.

Are you a fan of the franchise? Did you already see this new chapter? Which Evil Dead is your favourite? Leave a comment below to let me know. Thank you for reading.

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