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Evil Dead Rise Is Evil Dead Done Right

Photo provided by Warner Bros

It’s no secret that I think Evil Dead is the best horror franchise of all time. In my opinion, it’s the only one of any considerable size that doesn’t have a single lackluster entry, so it’s really a no-brainer. The consistency of this property across both film and television is literally unheard of in the horror world, so naturally, I was super excited for Evil Dead Rise. It was my most anticipated horror movie of 2023, and after finally getting the chance to see it, I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Evil Dead Rise was written and directed by Lee Cronin, and it stars Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and Nell Fisher. Unlike the other Evil Dead movies, this one doesn’t take place in a cabin in the woods (or the Middle Ages!). Rather, it’s set in a crumbling apartment building in LA, and it focuses on a single mother named Ellie, her sister Beth, and her kids Kassie, Danny, and Bridget.

One day, Beth decides to visit her sister, and soon after she arrives, an earthquake rocks the city. It opens up a hole in the building’s parking garage, and when Danny sees the hole, he realizes that it leads to a secret room he never knew was there. This new discovery is so intriguing that he just has to explore the place, and as you can probably guess, he finds a creepy old book that unleashes a horde of sadistic demons hell-bent on possessing everyone they come in contact with.

As you can probably tell from that brief synopsis, the plot of Evil Dead Rise is pretty much par for the course for this franchise. The only difference is that it’s set in an apartment building, but other than that, it’s exactly what you’d expect from these movies. So if the basic premise of Evil Dead doesn’t appeal to you, you’re probably not going to get much out of this film.

A creepy Deadite
Photo provided by Warner Bros

However, if you’re even remotely a fan of this franchise, I think you’re going to have a great time with Evil Dead Rise. It executes the basic Evil Dead blueprint to perfection, so it’s everything I ever wanted it to be.

For example, this movie has some of the best horror I’ve seen all year. In fact, it’s probably the scariest movie in the franchise, and when it goes all-out on the gore, it goes all-out. Granted, it doesn’t start out super gory, but by the end of it, you’ll almost feel like you’re dripping with blood just like the characters in the film.

Now, if that were all Evil Dead Rise did, it would pretty much be the 2013 remake. That movie is super violent and gory, but it lacks the campy fun and humor of the original trilogy. It just doesn’t feel like the Evil Dead I know and love, so as good as it is, it’s not really what I want from this franchise.

But thankfully, Evil Dead Rise avoids that pitfall entirely. To be fair, it’s not at all campy, and it’s definitely not a comedy, but it makes its Deadites much more playful than they were in the remake. These demons don’t just want to torture and kill you. They also want to have fun doing it, and that fun is pretty infectious. They inject a bit of light-hearted whimsy into the story’s grisly proceedings, so even though the film is still pretty dark, it feels like a real Evil Dead movie.

Two people looking at a book
Photo provided by Warner Bros

On top of all that, Evil Dead Rise also has some excellent performances. In fact, the acting is good all around, and that’s arguably the key to its success. See, none of the characters in this movie are fleshed out all that much, so they could’ve easily been bland and one-dimensional. But since they’re played so well, they feel like real people despite their lack of depth, so you become attached to them pretty quickly. You can’t help but root for them and want them to make it out of this terrible ordeal alive, and as any seasoned genre vet knows, that makes the horror in this film even more effective.

Last but not least, I want to talk a bit about how this movie fits into the overall franchise. When I first heard about it, I was under the impression that it was set in the same universe as the original trilogy, so when I saw the trailer, I was a bit confused. If anything, it looked more like the 2013 remake than the first three films, and I began to think it was probably just another reboot with no connection to anything that came before it.

But after watching Evil Dead Rise, I’d say it occupies a sort of middle ground between those two alternatives. On the one hand, it works as a completely stand-alone film, so if this is your first exposure to Evil Dead, you won’t be lost. But on the other hand, it also fits into the world of both the original trilogy and the 2013 remake, and it does so in a way that feels like a natural extension of the mythology Sam Raimi set up in his films. It makes room for every era of the franchise, and as a huge Evil Dead fan, I really appreciated that.

Turning to the negative side, I don’t really have much to say here. I thought some of the CGI in this film was a bit weak, especially towards the beginning, but other than that, I don’t have any complaints. I absolutely loved Evil Dead Rise from the first frame to the last, so like I said before, if this franchise even remotely interests you, I highly, highly recommend checking this movie out.

Evil Dead Rise is playing in theaters right now.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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