Evil Dead is one of the most recognizable horror franchises thanks mainly to Sam Raimi’s unique directorial style that masterfully blends entertaining camp and horrific gore. There’s also the fact that it was headlined by one of the most charismatic actors we have today, Bruce Campbell. When the 2013 Evil Dead remake was unleashed to the public, it leaned more towards the serious, shocking, and vicious aspect of horror. Some would even say that it pushed the limit a little bit too hard. However, it still generated its own dedicated fanbase. What Evil Dead Rise does is combine nearly all the best aspects of the film that came before to create one thrilling gruesome ride for all the sadistic gore hounds out there. There’s a lot of blood, but there’s also a lot of fun to be found here.
Rise immediately starts with a homerun as it pays homage to the franchise’s iconic tracking shot that leads into a brief scenario that introduces what can we expect: blood, uncomfortable humor (in the best way possible), and bombastic violence. This is also one of the best ways to drop a title sequence. You’ll know it when you see it.
What was initially planned to be an HBO Max release, Rise has been thankfully promoted to theatrical distribution and rightfully so, the film looks and sounds amazing. And if you’re the squeamish and easily startled type, you might even say that the film does its job way too well.
If previous installments had Deadites terrorizing poor souls in a cabin in the woods, Rise takes place in the claustrophobic environment of a condominium complex in the middle of a rainy night in the city. The rickety sounds of aging hallways and the tight corners of a unit all work well together to create a space that naturally creates fear and tension when it all starts going down. Director Lee Cronin and his crew waste no time in setting up certain geographical and materialistic elements that will all come into play in their own unique and visceral ways later on. It’s not always the most subtle and at times, can get a bit too in-your-face but it’s still effective enough to have the audience eagerly (or nervously) anticipating the moment it all comes into play.
The unfortunate victims caught in all this bloody mess consist of a mother named Ellie and her three children. They’re also joined by certified badass aunt Beth who pays them a visit after finding something out that she wasn’t expecting at all. All members of the cast give outstanding performances with Alyssa Sutherland being the main show stealer as the Deadite-possessed mother who’s dying to make sure her children are well taken care of. Wink wink. Seriously, she has got to be in the running for one of the best performances of the year. Sutherland’s added joy and excitement to the behavior of the Deadites just makes everything so amusingly sinister. Her performance alone makes the ticket price worth it.
Lily Sullivan’s aunt Beth ties everything together and is ultimately the protagonist of Rise. She quickly becomes a certified badass as she begins the film being unsure of herself to becoming a determined protector of her nieces against the bloody rampage her sister is on. This is a person who she looked up to for most of her life and is now trying to literally tear the family apart and she has no idea why. There are a lot of layers to unpack as to what that does to the psychology of a person and Sullivan shines on-screen in doing so.
But of course, it wouldn’t be an Evil Dead film if not for the blood and gore. Simply put: it’s here, it’s fantastic, gloriously excessive, and disgustingly impressive. There’s a lot of impressive stuntwork combined with believable practical effects. The violence doesn’t go as far as the borderline sensationalization of torture in the 2013 remake, but it’s all still horrifically presented. If for some reason, you love seeing blood in films, Rise gives it by the motherload.
Rise is filled with precise cinematography that aims to fully indulge the audience with the horror that is happening on-screen. Whether it be a surprise scare or a slow build-up, Lee and the performers know exactly what they were doing to make sure the viewer knows what’s coming. From minor movements in the background to repeated camera angles that communicate so much without a single word used, Rise is definitely an engaging watch that demands that your eyes are glued to the screen no matter how much you want to look away.
Once the Book of the Dead is opened and the Deadites are unleashed, the film’s pacing moves at a breakneck speed with little to no desire to slow down. Make no mistake. This film is a horrific rollercoaster ride that will have you screaming, smiling, laughing, and fearing at every turn.
Evil Dead Rise feels like an extremely polished idea of what Sam Raimi originally envisioned when they made the first film with a meager budget. When modern horror tropes start becoming too predictable and formulaic, it’s a franchise like Evil Dead that rises up to the challenge to turn every expectation we have on its head and rips it off with astounding bloodshed. Mommy’s coming, and mommy is dying to meet you.
Evil Dead Rise is showing in Philippine theaters on May 10.