Evil Dead Rise (2023)

First thing I am going to state about Evil Dead Rise is that it is not a direct sequel to the first three movies, nor a sequel to the reboot.  While some information in the movie canonizes the second as well as ties this one into the original series this is meant to be an account of yet another incursion of the Deadites into our world due to yet another of those pesky books, this time back to being called the Naturom demonto instead of the Necronomicon.  Also, even though a few beginning scenes happen at a cabin, the point of Evil Dead Rise was to put it in a more urban setting. 

I was looking forward to this as I am a fan of the original series and Ash vs. Evil Dead, but not so much the reboot.  The latter, titled Evil Dead to somewhat differentiate from the original The Evil Dead, had too much of what was wrong with horror in 2013.  It was still suffering from the 2000s, and the unlikeable characters and terrible music were still hanging around.  Things have vastly improved in later years, but unfortunately there are still many trends in modern filmmaking that unfortunately infest even the tried-and-true series, and they are all on display in Evil Dead Rise.

Beth (Lily Sullivan) is a guitar tech who decides to visit to her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) in Los Angeles.  Ellie lives in an apartment that she is in the process of vacating, along with her kids Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher).  While Beth was away Ellie and her husband split, leaving her to take care of the kids and, at this point, everything up in the air on where they will move to.  

While the kids are coming back with pizza an earthquake happens, opening access to a vault and safety deposit boxes.  The building had previously been a bank, so Danny is curious, but what he finds is a copy of the Naturam demonto and a series of vinyl records that contain recordings of the incantations within.  This awakens the demons which soon possess Ellie and begin cutting off access to the outside world, leaving Beth and the children to attempt to find some way to escape. 

Director and writer Lee Cronin is obviously a fan and spends much of his time trying to please other fans of the series.  That is where the modern movie problems come into play: too much fan service.  From the name of the pizza place to the names of the characters - all actors who had played in previous Evil Dead films - there is too much referencing of what are, by and large, better movies.  Ash's main weapons are also referenced as is the bone dagger with the skull, while the book is closer in style to that of the reboot. 

All this referencing served to pull me right out of the film.  The other thing is that the recordings on the vinyl records were supposed to be made in 1927, and even mentions on the record they are "vinyl recordings."  Vinyl records didn't exist at the time.  Shellac did, and 12-inch 78 RPM shellac records definitely did, with about four minutes of recording time per side.  They would not have been playable on Danny's turntable, and all that needed to be done is fix it so they were recorded in the late 1940s or sometime in the '50s.  It still would have fit the time period for the building being converted from a bank to apartments.  It is such a glaring error that did not have to be made. 

The best parts of the movie happen to be the ones that Cronin came up with, from the opening scenes leading up to the title card to an entire action scene viewed solely through a peephole.  There are great practical effects like in most of these films, and the weird body horror creature at the end is imaginative.  Just wish Cronin had thought of lighting it, which is something he should have done with a good deal of the rest of the film.  This continues another modern trend of everything being too dark, as if all the budget was spent on effects and catering, leaving the lighting guy with a couple flashlights with weak batteries. 

Evil Dead Rise is still much better than 2013's Evil Dead, but that doesn't mean it is a worthwhile entry in the series.  Alyssa Sutherland is great as Ellie, especially after the change, but this could have been much more.  I think a large part of the problem is that it takes itself way too seriously, something the 2013 movie made a mistake with as well.  A major part of the franchise that helped it stand out among other horror films, going all the way back to the first, was a sense of humor.  This time around it could be just any other modern horror film.  

Evil Dead Rise (2023)
Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Gabrielle Echols, Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher
Director: Lee Cronin



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