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Evil Dead Rise review (2023) - Thanks, I’m traumatised

The Evil Dead Rise is the newest film in the legendary horror movie franchise, and gives the series new life in a vibrant gore-fest.

Evil Dead Rise Review

Our Verdict

Evil Dead Rise is an outrageous and genuinely unsettling piece of body horror that will cause you to flinch at least once. When it comes to story, it may not have a soul, but it has a lot of heart and a hell of a lot of style.

The Evil Dead franchise was born out of tenacity and grit. The original 1981 horror movie was the brainchild of a then-unknown Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert.

After scrapping the money together, the trio embarked on their creation of the campy, ingenious feature that would end up resulting in several sequels, an off-broadway musical, and a niche but beloved TV series. For serious horror fans, the Evil Dead might not be considered particularly artistic or refined, but fans of the body horror movies would certainly fight to defend it as damn good fun anyway.

I’m pleased to report that Evil Dead Rise upholds the legacy of the outrageous classic and also holds its own as a standalone feature.

Evil Dead Rise is refreshingly simple a family due to be evicted from their would-be-Airbnb-goldmine apartment in the shell of a dilapidated ex-bank become subjected to a night of sheer terror after the teenager Danny (Morgan Davies) discovers a mysterious vault that houses you guessed it the Necronomicon.

From a plot perspective, there’s nothing overly imaginative or ground-breaking going on here, but believe us when we say that it doesn’t matter. Because, at the end of the day, Evil Dead Rise is a spectacular show with enough schlock and delightful gore to keep you on the edge of your seat without much need for actual narrative.

The white-knuckle atmosphere of Evil Dead Rise is set instantly when audiences are thrown into a whiplash-inducing opening POV shot. It causes discomfort right off the bat, and successfully never lets up for the rest of the film’s run. The opening sequence is perfectly unprecedented, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. In fact, when the main bulk of the film really gets going, you almost forget it happened.

Evil Dead Rise review: Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie in Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise spectacularly achieves its very clear goal: to create a genuinely gruesome and entertaining horror experience. The movie contains several sincere moments of drawn-out fear punctuated with, quite frankly, some wildly impressive moments of gore which satisfy the desire for carnage.

In fact, the nasty visuals are pretty relentless, forcing the audience to witness extreme moments of I’m-looking-away-from-the-screen-using-my-peripheral-vision cringe. (And, in one of the movie’s most dastardly moments, ensuring that they’ll never look at a certain kitchen tool in the same way again.)

But torture porn this is not the gore, while persistent, still has a sense of fun and absurdity to it, which is perhaps the greatest homage to the Evil Dead’s lineage that it could have accomplished.

Evil Dead Rise review: Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie in Evil Dead Rise

Make no mistake jump scares are frequent in Evil Dead Rise. So much so, that the formula hardly deviates from the reliable punches of jump scare, to chaos, to calm. Lather, rinse, repeat. But the cheap scares are lively enough that they don’t feel dry or lacking.

While many horror movies nowadays have resorted to meta gags out of distrust for the audiences’ suspension of disbelief (“Woah, hold on there! Don’t go into that creepy house! ‘Ain’t you ever seen a horror movie before?!”), Evil Dead Rise doesn’t feel the need to resort to such overused tricks.

The characters make dumb decisions and follow through on clearly-dangerous choices. But if one goes into the film with a relaxed approach and refrains from becoming obsessed with questions of ‘logic’ and ‘sense’, it’s a fun ride. It doesn’t try to be self-referential, acknowledge the genre, or push boundaries. In a way, it’s this tactic that makes it feel so surprising and fresh.

Evil Dead Rise review

The film soars the most when it gives focus to the character of Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), the rock ’n’ roll matriarch of the family who is the first to become possessed by Deadites. She’s a brilliant backbone for the story, and gives a genuinely disturbing performance. In a way, the most terrifying moments of the film are simply when long, unbroken shots are held on post-possession Ellie most notably throughout one intense peephole sequence and audiences are forced to look at her genuinely horrid visage for lengthy stretches of time.

The film is also visually sharp, with some rather imaginative shots and sequences giving the film a nicely crafted edge, highlighting the level of care taken in constructing the aesthetic. Thoughtful cinematography and creative framing perhaps implies the inclusion of Raimi’s influence more than anything, but it still manages to feel original enough. Lee Cronin proves himself a very competent director (more so than a writer), and exhibits a strong understanding of obscene visual imagery and an ability to maintain energy and intensity.

Evil Dead Rise might even work better as a standalone horror film. While there are a few franchise Easter eggs hidden about the place if you look close enough, it doesn’t make an attempt to shove the cinematic history down your throat. Therefore, audiences who aren’t familiar with the legacy of the Evil Dead will still find something to enjoy.

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That said, Evil Dead Rise has its flaws. As previously mentioned, there is a significant lack of plot and character motivation. While there are some attempts at constructing an emotional spine through the relationship between Ellie and her absent sister Beth (Lily Sullivan), a broken marriage, and a looming pregnancy, these never quite hit right.

But it might have been a blessing in disguise since focusing any more on these elements would have stretched out the runtime and given us less of the good stuff. Though the story is weak, the end result is so wild that you’d be forgiven for not even searching for it in the first place.

Evil Dead Rise will be released in the UK and US on April 21. For more horror, check out everything we know about the Saw 10 release date, our chat with Russell Crowe on why The Pope’s Exorcist became his first horror movie, and all the best slasher movies and ghost movies you can watch now. Don’t forget to check out the best movies of all time, as well as all the other new movies coming out this year.