Wed | Nov 29, 2023

‘Evil Dead Rise’ fun with frights

Published:Monday | April 24, 2023 | 12:30 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Director Lee Cronin, left, with actor Lily Sullivan on the set of ‘Evil Dead Rise’.
Director Lee Cronin, left, with actor Lily Sullivan on the set of ‘Evil Dead Rise’.

Like the dead rising from the grave, the Evil Dead franchise just can’t stay down. Now with the fifth film, there’s a departure from what’s become a staple for the series. Out with the cabin in the woods, and in with the LA high rise. Yet despite the change in setting, fans of the series, fret not. Evil Dead Rise has its signature gore, depraved entities running amok, and one truly idiotic soul.

The thrills begin straight from the opening. Evil Dead Rise has 90 minutes to tell its story, and the fat is duly trimmed as a result. The start of the film is arresting and sets the stage for scares well. Once you’re uncomfortably on the edge of your seat, the movie slows its pace to show you the poor family it seeks to torture before the credits and heads start to roll.

Ellie, a newly single mother with three kids, is visited by her sister Beth on a rainy night in their apartment. Perfect evening for a horrific chain of events. On the cusp of eviction and financial ruin, things could be better for the family of four, but thanks to the moronic actions of Ellie’s son, they’re about to get monstrously worse.

There are plenty of horror films that are predicated on foolhardy hubris, but this is the most brazen display of wilful ignorance to the most glaring of red flags I’ve seen in a while. While I don’t normally condone outbursts in the cinema, with this level of ignorance, the audience can have at it.

The shock and horror that follows is also rife with moments that will compel a vocal reaction. Screams on screen couldn’t match the howling that took place in the cinema. Evil Dead Rise is a devilishly crowd-pleasing movie, with savage twists and a commitment to visual terror. Alyssa Sutherland, in particular, is a force to be reckoned with, and feels like something out of a nightmare. Her physicality mixed in with a spine-chilling voice makes for an iconic performance.

What’s most impressive is how the movie conveys hopelessness. This film makes an apartment building in a busy city feel just as dire as a remote shack in the forest. It is a survival horror mixed with a family drama, that has the sense of fun of a horror comedy. It’s not a laughing matter by any means, but there’s a sense of glee that’s inherent in its irreverence. It’s creatively shot and fiendishly innovative in just how many ways it can put its protagonists through the ringer. I’ll certainly never look at a cheese grater the same way again.

It’s one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in the cinema so far, and I wouldn’t recommend it any other way.

Rating: Big Screen Watch