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‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a lackluster return to an iconic series

‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a lackluster return to an iconic series

‘Evil Dead Rise’ is a lackluster return to an iconic series
April 29
13:00 2023

“Evil Dead Rise,” a new installment in the classic “Evil Dead” horror franchise, released in theaters on April 21. The film acts as a soft reboot of the franchise with little Easter eggs and nods to its predecessors throughout.

The franchise film, directed by Lee Cronin, follows Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three children as they live with her estranged sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) after many years. While a heavy earthquake occurs at their apartment, Ellie’s son Danny (Morgan Davies) comes into contact with the book of the Dead.

The book soon introduces an unseen force displayed as Ellie is overtaken by an unknown entity. The family then attempts to survive the threat of the once-loving mother turned sadistic murderer.

Sutherland’s performance as the demonically possessed mom stands out well due to the chilling mannerisms and taunts thrown at every given opportunity. By contrast, Sullivan’s role as Cassie is more of a blank slate without much backstory.

“Evil Dead Rise”‘s story and characters aren’t too fleshed out, besides the usual family drama featured in so many other movies. The film’s strengths lie more in the grotesque blood and gore, harkening back to the original Sam Raimi franchise. Several wince-inducing sequences involve characters being forced to endure petrifying levels of pain, involving objects ranging from shattered glass to sharp kitchen knives.

The “Evil Dead” franchise has been around since 1981, and past films have contained similar premises to the newest installment — like a demonic book being discovered out of sheer curiosity and stupidity. However, the location changes from an abandoned log cabin in the woods to a rundown apartment in the city, giving viewers a much different setting.

A brisk 90-minute runtime and fast-paced narrative works well enough, until there comes time for character development. Since Beth and the other children aren’t fleshed out beyond the standard archetypes, the frights don’t hit as hard as they should. There’s still tension for the characters in certain scenes, but not enough to make the audience care about their survival.

The demonic mom, however, elevates the film and brings goosebumps whenever she appears. Her makeup and design are particularly grotesque and abhorrent to look at. This comes as no surprise since the “Evil Dead” films are notorious for their stellar creature prosthetics and practical effects. The lower $15 million budget is used wisely here.

An additionally well-executed element is the sound design and score. The piercing screams, chases and violence mostly all land. Creepy and ethereal music takes over intense moments, making them even more engaging to watch.

What weighs the overall project down is its weak script and the writing of the main characters. Emphasis is placed on the scares without proper time spent developing the main family.

Characters make dumb decisions at almost every opportunity, especially Danny, who caused everything in the first place. Other residents in the apartment complex are just there to be cannon fodder and might as well be cardboard cutouts.

The two estranged sisters are going through tough times, but there isn’t a lot of focus on their tribulations besides a few lines exchanged at the beginning of the movie. The children are somehow worse, with subpar acting and no development or agency.

What’s also disappointing is the lack of charm and dark humor from the original films. Raimi’s direction is sorely missing here, with there being barely any hints of his unique style. The cold opening is eerie and shocking, setting a tone not quite matched later.

Still, the heavy violence and gore remain top-notch and consistent with past “Evil Dead” entries. There are many parts where the audience will lose their appetite due to an overwhelming sense of nausea.

“Evil Dead Rise” isn’t exactly the big return to form for the hit horror franchise, as it lacks what made the originals so great. On its own, the film is still effectively creepy and grotesque, with makeup and visuals that go above the standards of most Hollywood pictures. However, the lack of character development and substance brings the film down from good to middling.

Joaquin’s rating: 2.5/5

Featured Illustration by Felicia Tshimanga

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Joaquin Fernandez

Joaquin Fernandez

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