Evil Dead Rise Review: A gruesome thrill ride - SciFiNow

Evil Dead Rise Review: A gruesome thrill ride

The Kandarian demon presence is back from the (Evil) Dead – but is it evil enough to stick around or is the franchise dead in the water? Forever evil, lastingly deadly – have they risen enough?

evil dead rise

Since Sam Raimi wound up his era-defining Evil Dead trilogy in 1992, we’ve had a ruthless remake (2013) which wasn’t terrible but didn’t spawn sequels. Then three seasons of Ash vs the Evil Dead reverted to knockabout comedy horror and showcased the pantomime skills of OG ED star Bruce Campbell. This intense reboot, Evil Dead Rise, from Irish director-writer Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) opens with a demon-view swoop across the haunted countryside, in the Raimi shaky-cam style, setting up a clever gag about the overuse of drones in contemporary horror cinema and a briskly horrific, creepy lakeside prologue which refers to Wuthering Heights as much as The Evil Dead.

Then, in a break from cabins in the woods – the franchise virtually invented cabins in the woods – the film shifts to a condemned apartment building in a version of Los Angeles you might expect from an Ireland-New Zealand co-production. An earthquake cracks open a bank vault and a kid finds an edition of the Book of the Dead – not quite the one from the other films – plus a handy demon-summoning ritual on collectible vinyl. Evil deadliness spreads through the small cast, with prime possessee Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) – a single mom tattooist – set against her sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) – a guitar tech who resents being tagged as a groupie – in a battle to save the souls and bodies of Ellie’s kids and some pretty-much-doomed neighbours.

It dials down the humour – not even a Bruce Campbell cameo – and ramps up the maggot-infested nastiness, springing shock after shock, scraping nerves with cackling malice, and gleefully deploying power-tool gore. It feels a little like an extended trailer, deluging the audience with loud, fast horrors but barely paying lip service to any emotional involvement which might make its horrors bite deep. Still, it delivers a gruesome thrill ride.

Evil Dead Rise is set to be released in UK cinemas on 21 April 2023 from Studiocanal.