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  • Benjamin May

Evil Dead Rise (2023) Review

Ellie is a single mother living with her three children- Danny, Brigit and Kassie- in a rundown apartment block. Her sister Beth- a guitar technician for a rock band- comes a-calling one evening. She’s just discovered she is pregnant, and needs her sister’s advice and company if she’s to deal with the news. However, after an earthquake splits the floor of the apartment garage open- revealing an ancient bank vault- all hell literally breaks loose. Danny steals a book and a record from the vault, unwittingly summoning an army of deadites to their door, one of whom possesses his mother. Will Beth and the kids survive Ellie’s undead machinations, or will the evil dead win the day?

Written and directed by Lee Cronin, ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a wickedly bloody horror that is a worthy addition to Sam Raimi’s iconic series. Though not as funny or as bizarre as the original three films, it is a good deal closer in tone to them than Fede Álvarez’s comparatively bleak 2013 version, benefitting from bits of humour throughout. The narrative- once the first twenty minutes of exposition is out of the way- is engaging and full of cleverly implemented and inventive gore. Confined to one location, Cronin’s game of deadite cat and mouse is thrilling and chilling in equal measure.

Conversely, other than Beth, all of the characters are quite one-note, with little development or backstory. The children are basically just plot devices with forgettable personalities and those outside the apartment are hardly more than shadows; ill-defined when examined under the light. Furthermore, despite a couple of unexpected moments, narratively ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is pretty linear and predictable. Though Cronin approaches gore with the hand of an auteur, he doesn’t make his characters feel special or give us many compelling reasons to care for them. Ash Williams, none of them are.

However, on the other hand, the film really is an eyeball-popping, jaw-dropping display of bloodshed and carnage so over the top you can’t help but be impressed. Cronin shares Raimi’s spark for creative violence, and ‘Evil Dead Rise’ boasts some truly grisly scenes, involving all manner of objects. Cheese-graters, chainsaws and electrical wiring are but a few of the cleverly implemented items of destruction Cronin utilises to great effect in the film. And as in any good ‘Evil Dead’ project, there’s a ridiculous amount of blood on screen- the karo syrup and red food-colouring budget must have been in the millions.

Under Cronin’s direction, cinematographer Dave Garbett makes the most of the limited space of the apartment, capturing the brutality and carnage crisply and clearly. His use of f-stops and wide-angle lenses is immersive, while his dynamic camera movements add suspense and excitement. Garbett had cut his teeth on ‘Ash vs Evil Dead,’ and so was well used to capturing deadite violence and gargantuan blood levels on screen; as his consummate and assured work in the finished film shows. Additionally, the film relies on practicality over C.G.I., which makes the incredible effects throughout all the more impressive.

‘Evil Dead Rise’ features a fine cast, though some make more impact than others. Lily Sullivan does strong work as Beth, although the role is ultimately one-dimensional and lacking in personality. Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher and Morgan Davies face a similar fate, giving solid performances as bland, forgettable characters- though Fisher should be commended, really, given how young she is and how well she handles the material. The real stand out is Alyssa Sutherland, giving an intense, wildly entertaining performance as Ellie full of a diabolical vigour and energy. Scary, funny, crazy- not even Ted Raimi could have played this deadite as well, and that’s saying something.

Although ‘Evil Dead Rise’ might not be in the same league as Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, it’s a roller-coaster of bloody chaos that’s entertaining and exciting nonetheless. While the narrative isn’t particularly special, director Lee Cronin’s inventive use of gore throughout should have audiences enthralled. Furthermore, Alyssa Sutherland’s performance as the villain of the piece is giddily over the top and utterly memorable, while Dave Garbett’s cinematography is commendably stylish and the practical effects on display are awesome. To cut a long story short, ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a frenzied festival of blood and guts that should leave viewers everywhere hungry for more.


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