“Evil Dead Rise” Rating: 3.5/5
Ah yes, the deadites return for a fresh spin on the series!
“Evil Dead Rise” shifts from the cabin in the woods setting to a high rise in the city. This time, we see two sisters reuniting under unfortunate circumstances. When one of the children finds the book of the dead, a horrible presence is awakened. Members of the family start getting possessed one by one, so the remaining survivors must find a way to escape or battle through those close to them.
“Evil Dead Rise” fulfills the difficult task of blending fan nostalgia with fresh elements. We find much of the blood-soaked, campy gore that fans of the originals will enjoy. But the film also switches up the location for a more claustrophobic setting.
The opening scene features one of the coolest title reveals I’ve ever seen in a horror film. The story is independent of others in the franchise. Anyone coming in knowing nothing about the franchise will have an easy time getting caught up in the lore. I enjoyed the simplicity of the story as well. It doesn’t lean into anything too complex, but rather offers a gnarly, fast-paced bloodbath that will please fans of the genre.
The story takes a more serious tone than previous entries in the series as well. For me, I appreciate this. The original “Evil Dead” trilogy always kept me at arm’s length due to the blend of extreme gore and over-the-top camp. Neither of those aspects are what I seek out when looking for horror films. But I respect those who enjoy it and understand why the franchise has such a cult following. With my preferences, I was pleased that “Evil Dead Rise” embraced the more serious tone and unsettling aspects. That’s not to say they completely abandoned the campy nature, but it was toned down noticeably.
Ideas such as family and motherhood are circulated throughout the movie. I enjoyed humanizing these characters and making their real life struggles understandable. This helps us relate to them and root for them against the deadites, even if they could have been…fleshed out more? Ha!
Although the fifth entry freshens things up, I still think it struggles in a few areas. I was surprised that the film wasn’t very scary. The trailers really sold this as a truly terrifying experience. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has some unsettling moments, just not the engulfing sense of dread that I thought it would be.
While I enjoyed some further character exposure here, it still doesn’t develop them enough to really feel any sort of connection. The first portion of the film gives us a surface level introduction of the struggles the two main women are going through. I wanted to see this expanded a bit further to truly feel connected to these women. This is frustrating because both are extremely likeable.
The opening scene and final shot of the film felt shoehorned into this story. Even though most of the film takes place in an apartment, the cabin in the woods setting was included anyway. I would have abandoned these scenes for some further character exposition with the main leads. Although the camp and silliness is toned down, it wasn’t totally absent. Most fans of the franchise enjoy the wonky tone that keeps these films unique. I’m not one of them. Although, I do understand why they needed to keep some of that to maintain the “Evil Dead” flavor.
Something to keep in mind is that the film is quite bleak. We are featured to characters who are going through some serious issues. However, to get possessed and deal with losing more family seems to pile onto such a grim tone.
“Evil Dead Rise” is better than it should have been. Horror has been rebounding lately and I’m here for it. The fresh setting and darker tone make this venture into the book of the dead worth visiting.
While the film won’t be for everyone (especially the squeamish), I’d certainly recommend checking it out if you’re a horror fan.
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