Evil Dead Rise, what a fitting title to the fifth installment in the Evil Dead film franchise. Yes, we have big expectations, and will Lee Cronin‘s vision rise up to our every hope and dream? That’s a resounding, hell yeah! We were at the world premiere at SXSW at the Paramount, and the experience was thrilling, to say the least. The energy in the audience was palpable. The opening sequence cemented itself among the best I have ever seen. From the moment the words EVIL DEAD RISE were stamped on the big screen, we knew we were in for one helluva show.
How do you infuse fresh blood into a franchise that has spanned four decades and amassed hordes of faithful fans? And how do you bridge the gap between new audiences and the OG fans? That’s “old guys,” as Bruce Campbell said after the premiere. Enter writer/director Lee Cronin.
A new beginning
The reunion of estranged sisters Ellie and Beth is cut short after an earthquake unearths a strange book underneath their apartment building. We all know where it goes from there. Someone has to read from the book, and then there’s possession, some Deadites perhaps, and some wickedly evil shit goes down.
Setting the majority of the film in this one apartment building was a perfect choice because it had me panicking, giving me all the claustrophobia, and feeling trapped right along with stars, Alyssa Sutherland (Ellie) and Lily Sullivan (Beth). They were phenomenal!
Sutherland’s transformation and performance as the possessed mother were the stuff of nightmares. Her voice was chilling, her movements were terrifying, and I wanted nothing more than for her to go far, far away. I was cheering for Beth the way I always had for Ash. I was gasping and silent screaming with my hands in front of my face. And let’s not forget these young actors. Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and Nelle Fisher were outstanding. Are they currently traumatized? I need to know if the terror I saw on screen was as real for them as it was for me.
Franchise nostalgia for the win
I did get the nostalgia I longed for from a few key-choice references, but this humor was dark. The battle against this new evil was brutal, violent, and gory and shook even this seasoned horror fan. Lee Cronin gave us one spoiler before the movie, and the words “cheese grater” made me squirm in my seat. None of us (along with the characters in the film) were spared from the nightmare imagination of Cronin. Mommy was evil. She was vicious. And she was just plain scary as fuck.
In three short months in 2023, we’ve had new life breathed into two of the greatest film franchises. Scream VI did not let me down and has me still shaking with excitement. And now I’ve got chills for days, thanks to Evil Dead Rise. I got everything I needed and more blood than anyone could have expected.
I was screaming in the final act, “WHAT IS THAT? DEAR LORD, WHAT AM I LOOKING AT?” I can’t get it all out of my head, and yet it got better and better before I was left horrified and laughing a little. We can all sleep soundly (and maybe with some nightmares) knowing that our beloved Evil Dead is safe.