Movie Reviews

Movie Review: EVIL DEAD RISE Starring Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Morgan Davies

Posted: April 21, 2023 at 3:03 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The deadites are back! And this time, they’ve infiltrated a high-rise apartment in the cityscape. Abandoning the traditional “cabin in the woods” trope, the latest installment in the horror franchise sees the summoning of demonic presences as they prey upon an unsuspecting mother, her sister, her children, and their neighbors.

Written and directed by Lee Cronin (a franchise first-time writer/director), Evil Dead Rise manages to combine the elements of horror prevalent in its predecessors while introducing a new element by shifting the environment of its plot. Seeing a franchise branch from its traditional location isn’t new, as we all remember that one time Jason Vorhees attempted to take Manhattan – but is a stylistic choice many modern directors are revisiting (think 2023’s Scream 6).

The film follows single mother Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three children: Bridget (Garbielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies), and Kassie (Nell Fisher). Joining the family in their 13th-floor apartment is Ellie’s sister, Beth (Lily Sullivan). The remaining cast is rounded out by Mirabai Pease, Richard Crouchley, Anna-Maree Thomas, and Noah Paul.

After a series of events that seem a little forced as a driving point for the story, Danny finds a copy of the Book of the Dead accompanied by a series of records. And, as unlucky as the other groups that came face-to-face with deadites, Ellie and her family are no exception. When the book and records end up in the hands of Ellie’s son, it doesn’t take long for the demonic presence to be summoned.

Calling back to the original 1981 film, the demonic resurrection prayer is uttered through a set of loud speakers attached to a turntable as Danny investigates what is on the mysterious vinyl recordings. And poor Ellie is the first victim – resulting in an elevator scene that pays homage to the cringe-worthy vine scene from both the original and the 2013 reboot. It does seem like the film takes quite some time to get started. There is an entire storyline surrounding Ellie’s absent husband that leads absolutely nowhere and, because of this, it feels like the film takes an unnecessary amount of time to start rolling. But once it does, it sure as hell doesn’t ease up.

Aside from a wicked opening, once Ellie is possessed and becomes a deadite, it seems like there was no holding back from director Cronin. Hell comes to the 13th floor of the building as she begins to torture, kill and possess residents of the building in some grotesque ways. One thing that is admirable about the Evil Dead films is they never relied on schlocky attempts at jump scares. Instead, they make the viewers confront the gruesome manners in which the possession moves from one host to the next, which I’m sure relied on buckets and buckets of fake blood on set.

Something about the film taking place in an apartment brings the story closer to home. And this is the first time we see actual children being hunted by our monstrous demonic parasites. The latter half of the film turns the octane up to 100 and grips the viewer while going straight for the jugular. As Beth and her nieces and nephew try and fend off the possessed Ellie, who contorts and twists her body in an absolutely terrifying manner, we get a little history of the Book of the Dead as Ellie listens to the remaining records.    

The film comes to its heightened third act as a new demonic presence is summoned – which, after seeing the “Abomination” in 2013’s entry, left me feeling stilted. It seemed so much more could be down with the concoction and design of the monster – but, maybe that’s my own biased expectations from the film. Nevertheless, it still serves up a bloodbath of a finale. Audience members watch in horror as Beth fights for her life – leaving viewers with one of the most vital questions in horror cinema: Does Beth have what it takes to be a final girl? Or, will she too befall the same fate as her possessed sister?

If you want to know the answer to this question, and I assure you, you most certainly do – go see Evil Dead Rise which is out now exclusively in theaters. It is the most recent film in an ongoing franchise that has terrified viewers since the early ’80s, and we haven’t seen a new entry in an entire decade. The newest installment does not disappoint and certainly doesn’t cheap out on scares and gore – proving to be a hell of a good, bloody time.

Evil Dead Rise earns B-