Big City Nights

Evil Dead Rise

by Hope Madden

Deadites hit the big city in Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise, the latest instalment in the old Sam Raimi demon possession franchise. As was true with its predecessors, blood will rain, viscera will spew, chainsaws will bite, and the dead will most definitely rise. Just don’t expect any jokes this time around.

We open, as usual, on a cabin. Despite the top-notch title sequence, though, this episode will not be a cabin-in-the-woods horror. Cronin, who’s credited with the script as well, takes the Necronomicon and all its secrets into an urban high rise to see what hell he can raise.

Beth (Lily Sullivan) has some troubling news and wants to lay low with her sister’s family for a bit. But her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is about to have some real troubles of her own because an earthquake opened a hole from the parking garage to a vault beneath the building. That vault held a book and some vinyl.

Lessons we should all have learned by now:

  • Don’t play unknown albums backwards.
  • Don’t read from flesh bound books.
  • Stay out of elevators. I know this one is pretty inconvenient, but honestly, it’s for the best.

Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) tosses in some loving homages to the Raimi films. Who doesn’t love a demon POV shot?! In fact, he uses disorienting angels and shots throughout the film to beautifully bewildering effect. A fisheye-of-death through a peephole is just one of the film’s many horrifying highlights.

Sutherland takes the most abuse as devoted mother turned chief Deadite, a role her lanky, angular frame is ideally suited to. She’s terrifying, but the most disturbing idea at play in this sequel is that children are fair game.

Cronin’s vision offers none of the slapstick, Three Stooges-esque humor of Raimi’s original trilogy. In fact, it leans far closer to the tone of Fede Alvarez’s underappreciated 2013 genre treasure, Evil Dead. And while this installment’s nods to the iconography of the original set is wonderful, Evil Dead Rise also recalls [Rec] and Joko Anwar’s Satan’s Slaves: Communion and even a little bit of Kubrick’s The Shining, Carpenter’s The Thing (or maybe Yuzna’s Society) – all exceptional horrors and worthy inspiration.

It’s also fun that Evil Dead Rise boasts an altogether new storyline, since so many films in the franchise are reworkings of earlier episodes. That storyline is somewhat slight, but what the film lacks in depth it makes up for with inspired visuals, solid casting, and so much blood.

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