‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a Depraved Treat For Horror Fans
There’s nothing easy about being a single mom. You have to wrangle unruly kids. You have to worry about making rent. Oh, and sometimes the demonic Book of the Dead is buried underneath your apartment building.
Evil Dead Rise is a loosely adapted followup to the original Evil Dead trilogy, with Lee Cronin at the helm as writer and director, and Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell as executive producers. Unlike its predecessors, though, this film (mostly) takes place in the city instead of a remote cabin. Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) is a tattoo artist taking care of her three kids. Her husband has flown the coop and her building is scheduled to be demolished in a month, and Ellie is barely keeping things together when her estranged sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) shows up on her doorstep, dealing with a crisis of her own.
The two sisters start to work through an emotionally thorny reunion when an earthquake rocks the building, opening up a fissure in the parking garage to reveal a hidden vault. And hidden in that vault is the family’s undoing.
What follows is a thrilling and depraved screamfest as Ellie is taken over by a demon to become one of the dreaded Deadites. Ellie comes after her own children as Beth frantically tries to fight her off, mourn her death, and figure out what the hell is going on all at the same time. What makes the premise of Evil Dead Rise so compelling is that it dips into every parent’s deepest, most unspeakable fear: not that something will hurt your kids, but that you will hurt them.
Alyssa Sutherland is absolutely mesmerizing as the possessed Ellie. She shambles, roars, scuttles across the ceiling, and pukes up gallons of froth as she wrecks havoc on her family. Obviously the makeup and effects, both expertly done, help transform her into a demon, but it’s her acting that makes the role unforgettable. Even more impressively, Sutherland establishes Ellie as an imperfect but loving mother in the first act, making her Deadite self all the more disturbing. Sullivan, along with Ellie’s kids (played by Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and the cherubic Nell Fisher) are also magnetic.
The gore will satisfy any horror fan, with some fun callbacks to previous Evil Dead films. The movie also manages to sneak in some moments that harken back to the slapstick comedy of the franchise’s best scenes. Are these moments funny, exactly? Sort of, although writer and director Lee Cronin understands that Evil Dead movies are at their best when you’re laughing and screaming at the same time.
The film is as beautiful to experience as it is disgusting. Ellie’s doomed apartment is swathed in dark, rich greens, made all the more atmospheric by a power outage. The sound mixing is immersive, giving each shriek and incantation an otherworldly resonance.
The movie isn’t perfect, of course. Some of the suspenseful sequences start to drag a little, especially when you can predict the jump scare that’s sure to follow. Overall, though, if you’re looking for meaty, twisted horror that will make you want to hug your kids a little tighter, Evil Dead Rise delivers.
Evil Dead Rise comes out in theaters on April 21.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]