Evil Dead Rise is incredibly mean, nasty, gross, filthy, and mean-spirited.

That’s exactly why I loved it so much.

The Lee Cronin written and directed film brings everything you’d want out of an Evil Dead-movie and then some. You have the series’ hallmarks like chainsaws, brutal demonic possession, and a bloodbath of a conclusion. Combine this with a reinvention on the traditional “cabin in the woods’ setting, and you get a movie that goes for broke on multiple occasions and comes out on the other side better for it.

The setup here is a family, broken from loss, who’s in an almost condemned apartment building that used to be a bank. Beth is visiting her sister, Ellie and her family, Bridget, Danny, and Kassie. Elli sends the kids to get pizza while she gives her sister the real story on what happened between her and her husband. An earthquake happens (every Californian’s nightmare) and part of the old vaults are broken open. Danny gets the bright idea to check out the open vault and stumbles upon the second volume of The Book of the Dead and some old records, he takes all of it back.

From there, Evil Dead Rise gives audiences some absolutely brutal and frightening scenes in the apartment building. In addition, it’s unknown if the earthquake was caused by the book or just the seismic activity of California. It’s the kind of coincidence that’s a stroke of genius writing from Cronin.

The cast here includes Lily Sullivan as Beth, Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie, Gabrielle Echols as Bridget, Morgan Davies as Danny, and Nell Fisher as Kassie. The familial dynamic is on full display in Evil Dead Rise. Beth and Ellie have a strained relationship from Beth being on the road her whole life. Ellie has a strained relationship with her kids because they’re adolescents and she’s now a single-mother. The kids have a strong bond between them all, and besides some sibling quibbling, they make it work. That is the heart of Evil Dead Rise.

The performance from Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie and later possessed Ellie, is absolute perfection. She’s heartbreaking, evil, disgusting, fearsome, and tragic. This posession hits incredibly hard. Morgan Davies performance as Danny is the catalyst for the events of the movie. They find the records and the scenes when they’re listening to the recordings are bonechilling. It’s some of the best tension in the film. Danny also finds themselves in the worst predicament of the film, finding the book.

Evil Dead Rise

Gabrielle Echols and Nell Fisher also give strong performances with Kassie being the one that provides a lot of the heartwrenching moments with Ellie. It’s not hard to imagine how we’d all feel if our mom were possessed by an ancient evil demonic force. Bridget might have the least amount of development of the kids, but she gets some of the strongest moments of the film when it comes to the horror. Most of the shock-value scenes involved her character.

Finally, Lily Sullivan is the final girl that ties everything together. But she breaks those rules for a final girl in interesting ways that connect to that theme of family throughout. As a character, she has edges and faults that really help the film along. She smashes her role in the third act of the film though, in full bloody glory.

Evil Dead Rise

The blood, gore, and makeup effects in Evil Dead Rise are the highlight of the film. It’s what the horror hounds are here for. Every wound, injury, smash, blood drop, spray, and fountain (yes, there’s a blood fountain) looks great with a blend of CGI and practical effects. The makeup department here deserves all kinds of accolades for the how Ellie looks when she’s transformed.

Evil Dead Rise doesn’t waste any time getting to the point with it’s 97 minute run-time. The tension is there from the get-go and it’s an incredible ride all the way throughout. The third act of the film is triumphant but doesn’t pull any punches, especially with how it connects to the opening prologue.

This is a truly terrifying movie that’s hard to do in a scary age that we live in. Evil Dead Rise is inventive with the way it uses horror tropes and subverts them, creating an atmosphere of tension and blood that you won’t forget.

Evil Dead Rise releases in theaters on April 21st, 2023.

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