Mommy loves you to death.
Evil Dead Rise is a 2023 supernatural horror film directed by Lee Cronin, written by Lee Cronin, produced by New Line Cinema, Renaissance Pictures, Pacific Renaissance, and Wild Atlantic Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film stars Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland. This is the fifth film in the Evil Dead franchise. It was preceded by Evil Dead.
"Mommy's with the maggots now." - Ellie
After finding the Necronomicon, a family accidentally unleashes the Deadites in their apartment on a stormy night, resulting in a nightmarish battle for survival.
Before I go in to this review, let me make it clear that the Evil Dead franchise is not for everyone. My enjoyment of the film is going to be completely different than someone else's based entirely on the fact that this franchise is ultra-horror. This is not entry-level horror like Scream or Halloween. This is hardcore, gnarly, squirm-in-your-seat horror that will not be for everyone. Hell, it pushes my limits. So know that going into this review.
Evil Dead Rise gives the Evil Dead franchise a bit of a shake-up by placing it in an apartment building and having our main characters be a family. Most of the Evil Dead movies are set in an isolated cabin in the woods, which makes for a terrifying scenario, but being stuck with the Deadites in a high-rise apartment is just as dreadful. This film does new things with the new setting. There are different complications because it's set in this apartment. There are different weapons used. There are different places inside of the apartment complex we can go to. It makes this movie stand out from the other Evil Dead films, which I enjoyed.
I also thought that Alyssa Sutherland, who plays the demon-possessed mother in the film, did a fantastic job. She's having tons of fun being this creepy, undead parent. One of my favorite things about the Deadites is that they are just mean. I find it so funny that this franchise has these terrifying possessed zombie-like creatures...and they are really, really mean before they brutally murder you. Alyssa Sutherland does a great job of being mean and horrifying at the same time. She elevated the movie a good bit.
The film also has all the blood, guts, and gore that you want from an Evil Dead flick. This isn't quite Terrifier 2, but it's up there. The film does not hold back from brutality. There are cheese graters used in nasty ways. There's some stuff done with glass that made me want to vomit. There's a woodchipper. There's a lot. Lots of blood. And lots of carnage. And it was very fun. If you love hardcore horror violence, you will have a good time with this film.
Piggybacking off of that, the practical effects here are sensational. The film probably uses some CGI, but if there was, it didn't show. The gnarliest, most brutal scenes were the ones that had clear practical work. When you are watching something that is physically real, it just adds a more gruesome edge to it than if it was a digital effect. I appreciate that Evil Dead Rise knows that and uses it.
I also liked the references to other Evil Dead films as well as other horror films in general. This movie isn't overly reliant on callbacks and references, but if you are an Evil Dead fan, you will catch some fun easter eggs in here (give a close listen when that record is playing). There's also a scene in an elevator that is a clear homage to another famous horror movie which I really enjoyed. This isn't a major positive, but I always get a kick out of films that call back to their predecessors in fun, not overly reliant ways.
Evil Dead Rise is missing a few things for me personally.
The Evil Dead movies are known for being these insane horror movies with ridiculous, almost satirical amounts of blood. The franchise is also known for mixing slapstick humor into all of the horror chaos. Evil Dead Rise is completely devoid of any slapstick humor. This is an incredibly serious film, and, while I don't think slapstick humor would've fit in to this particular story, I think this film needed some levity. Serious horror films can work, but Evil Dead is not really meant to be serious. I think the Evil Dead movies should stick to the more horror-comedy angle, because the outright horror angle can be a little bit much at times.
The big, looming problem with this film are the characters. Evil Dead has one of the most iconic heroes in horror history. Ash Williams is obviously never going to be topped, but Rise fails to provide any characters that are really even close to great. Everyone here is underdeveloped. They set up some interesting things with the two sisters as well as the kids and how they have a bit of a broken family, but none of it ever goes anywhere. There's no arc. There's no payoff. Once the Deadites enter the story, all of the character development disappears. It was very disappointing, because I think great characters could've made this a great movie.
I also think, although I had fun with this movie, it is pretty by the numbers. There isn't anything that really stands out here. Sure, the new setting is cool and the idea of the Deadites coming into a family makes for a new dynamic, but besides that, this film feels like a regular, by-the-book demon possession movie. It's a good version of that. It's fun and gnarly. But, at the end of the day, it isn't much more than that.
There are also a couple of things in here that just didn't add up for me. The way that they come across the Necronomicon is dumb. The characters make some constantly dumb decisions. There's also a final Deadite creature at the end of the movie that really didn't work for me. This creature felt impractical and made no sense. They couldn't even fully ever show it, because the design was probably extremely difficult and didn't look that good. I feel like this movie was a few steps away from being a truly great horror film, but it needed to resolve some of these glaring, obvious problems.
Final Thoughts and Score
Evil Dead Rise is a gnarly horror film that is not for the faint of heart. It's a serious, dark continuation of the Evil Dead franchise that hardcore horror fans will have a lot of fun with.
Being a pretty hardcore horror fan myself, I will go Savory. Age range is 17+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Evil Dead Rise"
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Directed by Lee Cronin
Rated R for strong bloody violence, frightening themes and images, language, thematic elements
Released on April 21, 2023
1 hour and 37 minutes
Lily Sullivan as Beth
Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie
Nell Fisher as Kassie
Morgan Davies as Danny
Gabrielle Echols as Bridget
Richard Crouchley as Caleb
Anna Maree-Thomas as Jessica
Mirabai Pease as Teresa
Jayden Daniels as Gabriel