Evil Dead Rise (2023)


Lee Cronin


Lily Sullivan - Beth

Alyssa Sutherland - Ellie

Morgan Davies - Danny

Gabrielle Echols - Bridget

Nell Fisher - Cassie

Jayden Daniels - Gabriel

Anna-Maree Thomas - Jessica

Genre - Horror/Demons

Running Time - 97 Minutes


Two sisters find an ancient book that gives birth to bloodthirsty demons that run amok in a Los Angeles apartment building and thrusts them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.


After ten years since a popular remake that was meant to relaunch a beloved franchise, we finally get a new EVIL DEAD movie in theaters. Ever since 1981, this cult horror franchise has been embraced warmly by the horror community through multiple films, several video games and even a television show that lasted for three seasons. Originally planned to be an HBO Max exclusive for 2022, the new owners of Warner Bros. Discovery decided it was worth releasing the series’ fifth installment, EVIL DEAD RISE, in theaters as a way to gain a profit by seeing how well it would perform at the box office. Considering the film has already made its budget back and just needs a few million to start building a profit for the studio, I say WBD made the right decision here. It’s also a good thing that EVIL DEAD RISE is a pretty good horror flick, despite that this installment may be the weakest of any EVIL DEAD film [and TV show] that has come before it.

First off, I think having a different location for the Deadites was a great decision. It’s been proven that it can work outside of a woods and cabin setting, like the refreshing take in ARMY OF DARKNESS and even on the Ash vs. Evil Dead television show. Having the demons take over a high rise building in Los Angeles is definitely a step in the right direction if they plan on continuing the franchise [which will obviously happen due to EVIL DEAD RISE’s success]. While I do wish more was done inside of the entire building when it came to the terror, I thought enough of the location was used to create a level of claustrophobia. Having most of the events happen within a single apartment was cool, while the elevator and parking garage moments were effectively used to heighten things a bit.

I also thought the characters were likable enough of the audience to get behind them, even if some of them do stupid things. I wish the characters had a bit more depth, but you get enough information about them to know who they are. Free-spirit Beth is hiding a pregnancy she hasn’t fully dealt with yet. Single mother Ellie who is trying to move on with her life, dealing with the abandonment of an ex-husband and having to raise three children while preparing a quick move out of the building. Bridget seems to be the oldest and environmentally friendly. Danny is a DJ and music lover who sees demonic books and reads them while playing records where the evil words of the Naturom Demonto are being read to unleash hell. Cassie is the youngest and seems to enjoy making weapons to protect herself. They’re a dysfunctional family who clearly love each other and get tested when Ellie becomes a Deadite. We also have neighbors who seem to have their own stories, but they’re never really focused on. Neighbor Gabriel seemed to have a thing for Ellie and vice-versa, but that never went anywhere really. I don’t think the film focuses on the relationships enough to feel their familial connection. But separately, the characters are enjoyable to watch on various levels.

I think the only reason why the characters worked better than what the script probably meant was due to the performances. Everyone in the cast did a great job with what they were given. In particular, Lily Sullivan was a strong lead as Beth. Sullivan manages to balance toughness with vulnerability, convincingly playing a woman who will do anything to make sure her and her family survive while trying to figure out how to stop the Deadites from completely taking over the building. Of the younger cast, Nell Fisher probably left the biggest impression as Cassie. Being the youngest main actress, Fisher carried herself very well and probably had the time of her life stabbing people in self-defense and getting drenched in blood. Her character made some real dumb decisions that kind of annoyed me, but Fisher’s likability softened those feelings a bit.

The star of the show though was, undoubtedly, Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie. Sutherland’s solid as a struggling single mother and sister who is trying to move on with her life for the sake of her children. But when she becomes the lead Deadite for the rest of the movie, Sutherland’s performance is borderline creepy and darkly comedic at the same time. She also changes up her body movements, transforming her character from human to this alien being that has no issue causing havoc for her host’s family. I hope to see Sutherland do more projects in the future because she really stepped up and elevated EVIL DEAD RISE for me.

I also enjoyed the homages and easter eggs that the film provided to fans of the franchise and to fans of the genre. We have references to previous EVIL DEAD films, like the mention of swallowing souls, reciting “Dead by Dawn” and even the eyeball gag into someone’s mouth like in EVIL DEAD II. Plus, we get the classic chainsaw making an appearance.

There are also tributes for other horror films. The peep hole stuff reminded me of classic Dario Argento, especially 1986’s OPERA. We get blood pouring out of an elevator like 1980’s THE SHINING. And the final boss seems to be inspired by 1982’s THE THING. It’s obvious Lee Cronin is a horror film fan and I felt a lot of these callbacks felt more inspired than fan service.

The gore and effects were also very good. A mix of both practical effects and CGI, they looked pretty impressive considering the movie had a $15 million budget. The Deadites looked great. The blood looked convincing. While the film could have been a bit edgier like the 2013 reboot/remake, some of the violent moments were cringe worthy in the best way. That cheese grater moment in particular - *shivers*.

The direction by Lee Cronin is super solid, as he understood the assignment and managed to connect EVIL DEAD RISE to the rest of the franchise while maintaining its own identity. I thought there was a lot of style in terms of shots and I felt what was used when it came to the building was done really well. I liked that the Raimi sweeping shots for the Deadites were retained and that the gruesome moments weren’t shied away. I think Cronin could have possibly pushed things further and actually made the movie scarier than it actually was. But the film was shot well and Cronin managed to keep the essence of the franchise intact.

There are issues with EVIL DEAD RISE though. While I understood the need for the pregnancy angle as a plot device to make Beth more maternal as the film progressed, it doesn’t really add much to the movie by its end. I think the character could have still hit similar beats without it, considering she cared about her sister’s children prior to the Deadites appearing.

I also thought some of the characters really did some dumb things that frustrated and annoyed me. I get that it’s a horror trope and that’s how things move forward in these films. But as I get older, the more my eyes roll at some of these characters’ antics. Even at a young age, I was never that naive at the presence of danger.

Despite a cool prologue and some awesome title cards, I thought the last few minutes felt oddly placed within the structure of the film. I get why it’s there as a way to explain what we saw first and how this will probably lead to more installments. But it fell kind of flat for me, especially that jump scare at the end. 

And like I mentioned earlier, the film doesn’t really push the envelope enough and feels the tamest and safest of the EVIL DEAD films. I was expecting something more violent and gorier and it just played out like your standard horror flick. What we get is great, but the other EVIL DEAD movies stand out due to the insane amount of blood, Deadite action and energy when it comes to the hero against the Deadites. When the energy does pop off, I feel it’s a bit late getting there and there’s not much time devoted to it. I just feel EVIL DEAD RISE doesn’t take enough chances.


Although it’s my least favorite entry in this franchise, EVIL DEAD RISE is still a solid addition to the EVIL DEAD series. Director Lee Cronin understood the assignment, including things that fans of the franchise would expect or enjoy, while still keeping this installment as its own thing apart from the rest. Having the events started by the
Naturom Demonto take place inside a high-rise building within an urban environment is a great fresh take for the series, even though I think more could have been done with the location. Same goes for the characters, who while likable, could have used a bit more depth and aren’t as memorable as Ash or Mia before them. But the cast is wonderful, especially Lily Sullivan as heroine Beth and Alyssa Sutherland as one of the more memorable Deadites in the franchise in Ellie. While I wish this installment had pushed the envelope more in some aspects, it’s still a fun movie and a worthy entry in the world of EVIL DEAD. Let’s see where they go with things in the next one, if that box office is any indication.


3 Howls Outta 4

(8 out of 10)

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