Apr 25, 2023
Buckle up for the most horrific installment of the Evil Dead universe
With the new Evil Dead installment, we didn’t get just another movie added to the franchise, we got a terrifying, new reimagining of the story. Much like the 2013 remake (which I liked), there is no Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. There’s also no sarcasm or comedy, so don’t go into this movie expecting Army of Darkness or Ash vs Evil Dead. This was an hour and forty minutes of balls-to-the-wall blood, guts, and terror. From the opening scene to the credits, Evil Dead Rise doesn’t let you rise up for air. It is, by far, the creepiest, scariest, and most horrific installment into the Evil Dead universe.
And I freaking loved it.
That’s saying a lot, because I am a die-hard Bruce Campbell/Ash Williams fan. Those of you who have kept up with my writing can attest to that. After all, it was my love for Evil Dead and Ash Williams that inspired my epic horror comedy, “The Adventures of Johnny Walker Ranger: Demon Slayer”, which you can get on sale here at Godless. So, even though Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi produced Evil Dead Rise, I was still wondering in the back of my mind—like I did with the 2013 remake—if it would live up to the hype.
Written and directed by award-winning writer/director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground), Evil Dead Rise is produced by both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi and stars Lily Sullivan (MENTAL), Alyssa Sutherland (Vikings), Morgan Davies (The Girlfriend Experience), Gabrielle Echols (Reminiscence), and child actress Nell Fisher. The twisted tale follows two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
Unlike the 2013 remake, this new chapter deviates from the usual story line and focuses on a family in an old run-down apartment building in Los Angeles. Alyssa Sutherland plays single mom Ellie, who is possessed by a Deadite early on in the film after her sister, Beth (Lily Sullivan), comes to town for a visit and an earthquake unearths the Necronomicon, or book of the dead. From there, it funnels its evil straight to Ellie, who, as a result, psychologically and physically tortures her own children.
Another change is in the recordings that are played. In Evil Dead Rise, we have recordings of a priest on some old records recounting his experiences with the Kandarian Demons (rather than a scholar regurgitating his findings), which releases the chaos.
But don’t worry, Ash Williams fans, there are two Bruce cameos in the film, along with a nod to the chainsaw and boomstick. I caught the first cameo (hint: pay attention in the scene when Danny plays the records), but the second cameo I had to look up (and you will, too, because there is no way to tell from the movie itself; you’ll have to Google it). All in all, Evil Dead Rise, while giving homage to its roots, is successful as its own film.
With that said, where does it fall within the franchise?
The brilliance of this movie lies in the fact that it could function as any of the following: a continuation of the original trilogy, a sequel to Evil Dead (2013), a standalone, or a reboot. It all depends on how you look at the film. There was one scene in the movie that really hit home, tying them all together in my mind.
I mentioned the scene where Danny is listening to the old records already, and I’m mentioning it again here. This is a pivotal scene because it masterfully links all the previous films to this one. When Danny plays one of the records next to the Necronomicon, it mentions that the book before him is just one of three volumes of the Necronomicon.
Hello, Army of Darkness fans! This ringing any bells? No? Then allow me three words: klaatu verata nikto—the three words Ash was supposed to say over the “right” Necronomicon. How many Necronomicons were in that scene? Yep, three.
In Evil Dead Rise, this seems to indicate that ALL THREE books were real, and that Ash had to pick the right one for HIS particular circumstances (i.e., the one that had already been opened and read). Therefore, what we have is one version of the book in the original Evil Dead trilogy and Ash vs Evil Dead series, the second book in the 2013 remake, and the third book found under the Los Angeles apartment in Evil Dead Rise.
Do you need to see any of the previous films to understand this one?
No, which is why it works well as a stand-alone film. However, if you haven’t seen any of the previous installments, you need to remedy that situation ASAP. I would also add that, for me, having seen the previous entries countless times, it did enhance my viewing of the film.
With all that was great about the film, it did have one major flaw that the others avoided, and that is character development. The film starts out so fast and furious, we don’t get time to know the characters. This results in us not giving very many f**ks about what happens to them. This doesn’t happen in the original trilogy and series because, duh, Ash Williams. The 2013 remake, with all its blood and gore, still managed to get fans invested with what happens to the characters.
This isn’t to say things aren’t revealed along the way to help get you to care about the characters because they are. Even so, it still lacks any real “hook” to create buckets of empathy for the characters. Those buckets of empathy are replaced with buckets of blood and guts (some of the most blood I’ve ever seen in a movie, and that’s saying a lot!) and one of the best woodchipper scenes in cinematic history. The crunching and popping sounds in the movie alone are worth seeing it on the big screen and in Dolby audio!
Even with the lack of character development, I still give this movie five out of five chainsaws. The sheer terror, creepiness, blood, gore, and how they connected this to the rest of the movies helps make up for the character development flaws in my mind. Evil Dead Rise is, by far, the scariest entry to date in the Evil Dead franchise. Horror fans, get to the theater and see this one NOW! If you wait until the video release, you’ll regret it.
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Ezekiel Kincaid lives for horror and loves to write and talk about it, whether it be in his own novels or in movie/series reviews. His experience as both a pastor and a paranormal investigator bring everything he writes to life.