Evil Dead Rise review: Gory, gruesome, groovy | Films | Entertainment

The Evil Dead series has, weirdly, become one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time. So to reboot it with a new director and an entirely new look was no doubt a tough pitch for executive producers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell – but fans of the series needn’t have worried. Evil Dead Rise is a return to form for the Evil Dead series – mostly.

Evil Dead Rise follows Beth, who arrives at the condemned apartment block of her sister, Ellie, where she lives with her three children, Danny, Bridget and Kassie. After an earthquake threatens the family’s safety, the kids find an old mysterious book buried deep within the foundations of the building – the Necronomicon (never actually named in the movie, but us old guard know what it is).

After the tome is opened, Ellie becomes possessed by a vicious demon, and Beth is charged with keeping her nieces and nephew safe from the evils borne from the horrific Book of the Dead.

What follows is a brutal fight for survival taking place solely in the small apartment, and it is absolutely thrilling.

As soon as the throes of the occult grab hold of the plot of Evil Dead Rise, there isn’t a moment of peace. From running in circles in the small apartment to trapping the possessed mother outside the front door, Evil Dead Rises quickly places viewers teetering off their seats and forces them to stay there until the credits roll.

This gorgeously gruesome display of wrought tension is built perfectly by director Lee Cronin.

The newcomer to the series seems to have settled into the world of Evil Dead with ease. His directing prowess was proved in his previous picture (The Hole in the Ground) but Evil Dead Rise shows he hasn’t peaked just yet. His angles, pacing, and cinematography are as interesting as they are engaging, setting pulses racing for the most casual or hardened horror viewers.

Cronin blissfully builds a beautiful horror flick in Evil Dead Rise that is both too good to look away from… while also being too excruciating to watch.

As with most modern horrors, the guts and glory are where the money is made. And Evil Dead Rise has plenty of them. After an excellent opening sequence (perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in horror for a couple of years), a microscope is placed upon the more horrifying moments of the picture. You’ll see every nick and cut up close and personal. Trust me when I say you’ll never look at a cheese grater the same way again.

Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise has also taken some tips from the Evil Dead progenitor, Sam Raimi. Between references to The Shining, the devil-ridden thriller includes countless moments of comedy and levity. From foul-mouthed ghouls to undead jokes, these glimpses into Cronin’s comedic chops are what truly make Evil Dead Rise feel like it’s part of the franchise family.

It’s also extremely refreshing in this era of mainstream horror that Evil Dead Rise relies in no way on cheap scare tactics. You won’t find any quick jump-scares here; no, Cronin wants you to look at every pixel of what gory goodness is going on at all times.

While the movie’s design, practical and CG effects are fantastic, I do feel as if viewers may not find much worth in Evil Dead Rise’s plot.

For me, the most fascinating parts of Evil Dead Rise were the slowly uncovered pieces of history about the Necronomicon. But once this part of the movie is in the rear-view mirror, Evil Dead Rise retracts into a “monster movie” shell. Now, it just so happens that this particular variation of monster movie is really, very good – with some amazing bells and whistles – but the fragile and chaotic lore of the demons is something I would have loved to see more of.

Furthermore, the picture’s ending was absurdly abrupt. Fear not, no spoilers here; but viewers will certainly feel the movie does not get a satisfying ending. I was left wanting more (which could be a good thing) while also feeling as if the ending was a little unfinished.

Evil Dead Rise’s final moments are not what you’ll be telling friends about once the credits roll, though. It will likely be the fantastic performances from its leads.

Alyssa Sutherland is jaw-droppingly good as Ellie. Her subtle quirks shine through when she is playing the “cool mom going through some stuff”. But, once Ellie is possessed, the physicality she brings to her possessed self is extremely admirable – and it’s a joy to watch. From wall-climbing like the Exorcist to head-butting a door, Sutherland totally sells being an undead spawn from an erupting Hellmouth. I could have watched her destroy everything and vomit on herself for hours.

Likewise, Beth star Lily Sullivan is blisteringly great. You won’t find any scream-queen or final girl here: Beth is powerful, relatable, and an intelligent hero that you will be rooting for at every turn.

Evil Dead fans: this is not exactly the movie you were perhaps looking for, but Evil Dead Rise is bloody, visceral, funny, and totally worthy of the Evil Dead name.

Evil Dead Rise hits cinemas on April 21.

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