Twenty years passed between Army of Darkness and the loose reboot Evil Dead. Though it was a more serious adaptation with slicker production values the 2013 Evil Dead was a box office success that introduced new horror fans to the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. A sequel seemed inevitable but it took another decade to get the fifth instalment of the franchise onto the big screen. And Warner Bros. Pictures initially planned this one for a streaming-only release on HBO Max. Now Evil Dead Rise is here and takes the deadites from their familiar ‘cabin in the woods’ setting to a high rise apartment in an urban setting.
Estranged from her sister, Ellie, Beth spends her days on the road in dingy bars working as a guitar technician. When she finds out she’s pregnant, Beth finally decides to visit her sister and her children in their Los Angeles high rise apartment. But when an earthquake opens a hole to a hidden vault, one of Ellie’s kids discovers the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis – Book of the Dead. Soon he’s reading from its pages, which unleashes demonic forces on the building that trap the family and put the very existence of their souls at risk.
Evil Dead Rise a Fun, Roller-Coaster Ride Filled with Buckets of Blood
Regardless of its new urban setting, Evil Dead Rise is an Evil Dead movie from start to finish. Clearly, writer and director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) understood the assignment. At just over 90 minutes in length, this sequel’s a little longer than its predecessors due to what’s ultimately an unnecessary, if not fun, bookend segment. Regardless Evil Dead Rise is a lean horror movie that wastes no time getting to where you want it to go. And once Cronin starts the bloodletting, the director rarely relents as he ensures that there is an almost constant feeling of danger and tension. While some of the franchise’s humor makes its way into this sequel, Cronin doesn’t fully embrace Raimi’s more slapstick tendencies.
…Evil Dead Rise is a lean horror movie that wastes no time getting to where you want it to go.
However, Evil Dead Rise does embrace the use of copious amounts of bodily fluids. Apparently, Cronin used about 6500 liters of fake blood and it shows. Whether it’s a character vomiting up white bile, any eyeball being spit across the screen, or a bit of a reverse tribute to The Shining with an elevator filling with blood, Cronin doesn’t spare audiences on the requisite gore. There’s also an almost uncomfortable amount of danger here – Cronin doesn’t shy away from putting his child characters in peril. Throw in several scenes that boast edge-of-your seat scares and Evil Dead Rise is a full-blooded horror movie designed to take audiences on a gruesome roller coaster.
Evil Dead Rise Draws the Best Praise – It Leaves You Wanting to See Another Sequel
Where Evil Dead fans may be a bit disappointed is the lack of connectivity and direction in the latest installment. Fede Álvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead was essentially a reboot that just happened to bring back Bruce Campbell for a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ post-credits cameo. Otherwise that movie merely re-introduced fans to the 80s mythology. Aside from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, Deadites, and copious amounts of blood, Cronin hasn’t made a sequel that narratively connects to past entries. If you listen closely, you’ll hear Campbell’s voice as a priest on an old recording. Hopefully, if this sequel succeeds at the box office, future movies will build on and connect to one another in some way. But this is a very minor grievance.
We’d definitely be happy to see Sullivan return alongside Campbell and Levy for a future installment.
If fans miss Bruce Campbell, they can take solace in the fact that Evil Dead Rise offers a worthy protagonist in Lily Sullivan’s ‘Beth’. Like Jane Levy’s equally compelling ‘Mia’, Sullivan makes a convincing transition from overwhelmed and terrified to ‘kick ass’, chainsaw-wielding hero. When Sullivan steps up to save her youngest niece and dares a Deadite to ‘come get some’, she evokes memories of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. We’d definitely be happy to see Sullivan return alongside Campbell and Levy for a future installment. On the flip side, Alyssa Sutherland’s ‘Ellie’ may be the most memorable Deadite in the series to date. All three of the child actors are every bit as good as their adult counterparts.
Evil Dead Rise is a Worthy Edition to the Series
A decade was a long time to wait, but Evil Dead Rise was worth it. Nothing will re-create the feel and timing of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II but Cronin comes a bit closer to that mix of gross-out horror and silly humor than the 2013 remake. Of course, Cronin sparsely spreads out the humor and it’s never as slapstick as what Raimi put on screen – the horror skews more seriously again. But the blood sprays liberally and the carnage and danger feels constant. If Evil Dead Rise represents the direction of the series, fans have a lot of reasons to look forward to the next installment.