Review : Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead is one of those movie trilogies that holds a certain place in my heart. The over-the-top visceral effects, blood for days, a truly horrifying premise and a charismatic lead that set it above so many other horror movies and started my man crush on the one and only Bruce Campbell. Helming the originals was Sam Rami and his unique style has been sought after ever since, yet does Evil Dead Rise benefit from his and Campbell’s involvement as producers? Let’s dive in and take a look.

After an absolute belting of an opening Evil Dead Rise quickly settles into its rhythm taking heavily from its predecessors. We swap out an isolated cabin in the woods for a run-down apartment block in the city on a stormy night. Guitar Tech (not groupie) Beth (Lily Sullivan) shows up on her sister’s doorstep looking for some help and guidance. Unknown to Beth, her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) has some troubles of her own to deal with, a husband who has left her and their three children and trying to find a new place to live after their apartment complex has been condemned.   

After Ellie sends Danny, Bridget and Kassie off to pick up pizza while she and Beth catch up, the area is hit by an earthquake opening up a previously forgotten room under the building. Danny (Morgan Davies) , thinking there might be something valuable in the room, crawls in to investigate and finds none other than the Necronomicon. For those new to the series the Necronomicon is central to all that happens in the Evil Dead world. Bound in human flesh and written in blood the Necronomicon holds incantations on how to summon the chaotic Deadites.  

My head shaking began here as all those memories of Evil Dead’s past came flooding back. With the Necronomicon were the vinyl records containing the translation of the incantations and somehow Danny, a prospective DJ, had equipment on hand to play them.

Evil Dead holds a special place in the horror genre. There has not been one critically panned outing as yet in forty-plus years and Evil Dead Rise is no different. It is no secret now that the community at large loves it, and rightfully so. It is a good, fun outing befitting the franchise and yet it still left me a little flat by the end of it. I don’t have anything bad to say about the movie directly but it is missing something, I have a theory on what it is but more on that later.

From the moment we hear the Necronomicon being read out loud the entire pace of the movie shifts up a gear. Thanks to the booming sound and carefully shot moments it elevates your heart rate getting you ready for what is about to come. Sound is one of the most important parts of a horror movie and Sam Rami has always used it to great effect. His influence is felt with the booming bass resonating through your body at every turn.

Alyssa Sutherland’s performance as the infected mother is terrifying as she plays off the innocence of her children and builds a character that switches from a loving mother to her Deadite version out to cause complete carnage and chaos. Some of her best moments were only small blink and you’ll miss them but important in portraying that fear the whole family was witnessing.

The introduction of children into the mix I thought would soften things somewhat but with Danny and Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) being older teens they were not spared any of the gore and looked like they had a blast filming some of the scenes. Thankfully the youngest Kassie (Nell Fisher) was spared some of the more intense moments but she holds her own and steals the show in some moments getting the most laughs.  

 Director Lee Cronin does his best in trying to capture some of the magic from Rami’s original trilogy with some well-timed lighter moments that had the cinema cracking up but ultimately Rise was closer in tone to 2013’s Evil Dead “reboot”. Moments were projected well in advance and some scenes even felt shot for shot with other movies within the same field. It’s a very fine line between tried and trusted and the same old thing. Evil Dead Rise unfortunately steps into both camps a little too often.

Evil Dead Rise is by no means a bad movie. Its setting and tone are very Evil Dead, visually it is full of the bloody violent moments the Deadites are known to bring and the actors are all in their element putting in brilliant performances and yet ultimately, it still felt incredibly predictable.

Evil Dead Rise will give you the thrill we all need from a good horror movie but fans of the originals may be left wanting a whole lot more. I miss the charisma that Bruce Campbell brought to the role of Ash Williams. If Evil Dead is to try and become some kind of legacy we need strong characters that we can get behind not just cannon fodder for the Deadites to feed on. This isn’t a slight on anyone’s portrayal, but there is a difference between standing up to, and reacting out of fear. 

Evil Dead Rise is out in cinemas in Australia on April 20th and is well worth the visit, if even just to watch the squirms of those around you. 

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