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Director Lee Cronin Doubles Down on Trauma in ‘Evil Dead Rise’

Beth, covered in blood, holds up a shotgun in Evil Dead Rise.

Writer and director Lee Cronin, creator of the films Ghost Train and Hole in the Ground, is known for his horror. Now he’s taken on his biggest project yet: Evil Dead Rise, coming out in theaters this Friday.

The latest installment in the Evil Dead series makes some changes to the formula. Instead of an isolated cabin in the woods, the action takes place in the heart of Los Angeles. Instead of Bruce Campbell’s Ash firing his boomstick at Deadites, the story centers on Ellie and Beth, two estranged siblings who each deal with the fraught world of motherhood.

I recently spoke to Cronin, asking him how he approached the world of Evil Dead when he was chosen to write and direct the new film.

“By starting with a blank page,” Cronin says, “and making no assumptions as to what this had to be. I just knew that the context needed to change, and that the characters needed to change. From there, I just started to think about the things that I’m always attracted to in storytelling: themes around family, themes around motherhood, themes around parental fear. I started to put that in the melting pot, and think about where I could take this story.”

Cronin explains that the concept of Evil Dead Rise formed organically once he started playing with those themes. “The more you stir that pot, the more it kind of gets refined and things start to show themselves,” he says. “And I started to settle in on these sisters and the fact that they’re kind of the opposite to each other, but both kind of suffering at the moment …. you know, in the context of a horror movie, people are already carrying scars, and then you double down on that, and bring the trauma heavier into their world.”

I also asked Cronin about his experience taking the Evil Dead reins from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (who both serve as executive producers for the new film).

“It was exciting,” he says. “As a filmmaker, to be handed the car keys to such a loved franchise, and to be trusted to go drive that car but bang up things along the way—because it’s supposed to be a noisy movie that makes an impact—was a real joy for me.”

But he doesn’t deny that it was a lot of work. “It’s fun to celebrate these moments,” he says, “but then you’ve got to put that to the side, put your head down, and be a professional and get on with the job of making a movie and telling the story that you want to.”

Check out our full interview with Lee Cronin below! You can also catch other interviews with filmmakers and actors on our Youtube channel.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at