“Evil Dead Rise” Review: Buckets of Blood and Campy Delight

The Evil Dead franchise has been an interesting one to observe as the decades have gone by. What started initially as a very low budget first feature by then unknown director Sam Raimi blossomed into a genre defining masterpiece with its sequel, Evil Dead 2. Now a trilogy and a reboot later, we now arrive at the latest installment by Lee Cronin, Evil Dead Rise. Does it evolve past the initial concept by Sam Raimi and the frenetic interpretation by Fede Alvarez’ Evil Dead (2013)? Or does it just become more of the same, not adding anything to the plethora of recent groundbreaking horror movies? Thankfully, Evil Dead Rise goes above and beyond to prove its worth and justify its very existence. 

Evil Dead Rise follows Beth (Lily Sullivan) as she goes to visit her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her children in her apartment in L.A. After an earthquake, Ellie’s son Danny (Morgan Davies) crawls inside a hole on the ground and finds the elusive Necronomicon and all hell breaks loose. What follows is the largest gore fest you’ll see this year.

The biggest selling point in the film is the change of setting. As opposed to the standard cabin in the woods, the latest entry takes place in a small apartment up on the 14th floor. This allows for diverse set pieces utilizing a kitchen, or an apartment hallway or even an elevator. The story sticks mostly to the same beats from previous entries, someone finds the book, the incantation is read, we get the groovy Steadicam shot and someone gets possessed by the demon. The similarities end there, since it became a wild roller coaster of unpredictability of who’s getting possessed and who’s going to die. Even the way similar beats develop differ, and the changes are much more appreciated. As opposed to someone being so dumb as to read from the book of the dead, you have Danny playing a vinyl of someone reading the incantation, even after they tried to stop the record player from playing said incantation. The way the hallway, the elevator and the basement parking are used as potential playgrounds for the demonic Beth to roam around and haunt her family feels fresh and inspired. The movie doesn’t rely on jump scares that much, instead using atmosphere, actual suspense and creative camera tricks to scare and horrify its audience. There are a few moments where it relies on musical cues to make sure the audience gets frightened, but thankfully it doesn’t detract from the genuine moments of horror. The movie doesn’t shy away from its gore either, showcasing a gigantic amount of blood, guts and gore. So much blood is spilled on screen that it makes you wonder if they broke any record with the amount present on screen. 

There’s also the humor and camp that’s ever present in these films since Evil Dead II. While it’s not as bat-shit crazy as the Sam Raimi movies, it does bring a few campy and ridiculous sequences that are intentionally hilarious. From Beth’s insane dialogue, to the way she chuck’s her victims like dolls across the hallway, there’s a lot of ridiculous moments audaces will enjoy. The cinematography is clear and effective, showing you every gory detail and not skimming on the blood and guts. Alyssa Sutherland really plays up the camp when she turns into the fearsome demon, delivering cheesy one-liners and a hysterical over the top physical performance. 

Evil Dead Rise struck an even middle ground from the attempt at serious horror from Fede Alvarez’ reboot and the unabashed camp from Sam Raimi’s earlier trilogy. It stays true to what the Evil Dead franchise was always about, a group of people stuck in a confined space trying to survive an evil demon that came from the Book of the Dead, with shotguns and chainsaws included.

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