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‘Evil Dead Rise’ Fixes a Franchise Problem

A woman wearing headphones and looking unsettled in Evil Dead Rise.

When it comes to a franchise like the Evil Dead, we’ve sort of come to know it the story of Ash, played by Bruce Campbell from the first film through sequels and a television series called Ash vs Evil Dead. As time went on, the story eventually included more female characters who weren’t just canon fodder for the deadites.

That’s honestly something I just didn’t expect to see done incredibly well in movies I loved, and that wasn’t something I was really that upset about. I loved Ash Williams a lot and just figured the Evil Dead movies weren’t going to have the best representation for female characters. But then the world gave me the new Evil Dead movies.

While more of a horror spin on the campy nature of Sam Raimi’s franchise, both the 2013 Evil Dead and now Evil Dead Rise have given female characters a chance to fight the deadites in the way that we did start to see more of with Ash vs Evil Dead, but not really in the original Raimi movies. And it wasn’t until Evil Dead Rise, where the story focuses on Beth (Lilly Sullivan) trying to make it out alive with Kassie (Nell Fisher), that I realized how cool it actually was to see women fighting back.

For years, we watched as Ash saved everyone, but it took until the TV show in 2015 to really have female characters who weren’t just fawning over Ash Williams the entire time or … well, dead, and it’s nice to have a change of pace!

Again, I love Ash. I want him back. But it’s just a change of perspective that I think the franchise needed, especially with how women were used in those first three movies and the growth the franchise showed in the TV series.

A woman’s perspective

While I don’t think that focusing the story on Ash was a disservice to the story as a whole, Evil Dead Rise did make it clear (along with characters like Mia in the 2013 Evil Dead) that these films were lacking female characters who could hold their own. It’s one thing watching Ash learn how to take on the deadites. It’s another to watch women become possessed and die over and over again.

Having a movie like Evil Dead Rise focus mainly on women in the world of the Evil Dead was refreshing. I didn’t have to think, “This franchise is fun but the way it treats female characters …” because it did justice to Beth. She had an entire arc, was the reason that Kassie survived, and it wasn’t a moment of her needing a man to come to her rescue.

That was, for me, the change of pace I think this film franchise needed. I still want everyone to go find Ash and see him because I do think that Beth would love/hate him, but I also just like that women are getting their time in this franchise—and not just as fodder for the deadites to use against Ash at some point down the line.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.