The Evil Dead franchise is alive and well. The characters can’t say the same.
The in-your-face action the franchise is known for continues in “Evil Dead Rise.” Just like past entries, brutal melee thrives in enclosed spaces, this time with the focus being a family trapped in a Los Angeles apartment.
Now, fighting a possessed mother hellbent on ending her family’s bloodline doesn’t sound easy. That’s because it’s not.
The “new” Necronomicon unleashes a type of deadite (the demonic enemy of the Evil Dead series) that is unseen so far in the series. The powers and motivation of Ellie, played by Alyssa Sutherland, are powered up compared to the original three movies. This deadite is closer to “Evil Dead” (2013) in its movements and thought process.
In another sense, nothing has changed. The deadite plays tricks on the survivors. Playing dead and changing into their non-possessed figure are staples of the franchise that continue in “Rise.”
Sutherland’s performance brings the whole movie together. In the past, the deadites mirrored the main protagonist in their actions and lines. In this installment, Sutherland changes the emotion of every scene for the better.
Her movements and delivery of her lines add to a creepiness that is already crafted through the film’s lighting and sound.
From the start of “Rise,” the audience knows that they’re back in the Evil Dead universe. The swinging following shots that ooze demonic possession are still a mainstay.
The technical shots that used to bend between trees now go from a city street to an apartment door, not a cabin. The new-to-the-franchise setting creates new unseen opportunities for both horror and environmental storytelling.
The best shot in the movie comes from a set perspective through a peephole that shows action removed from the viewer. Throughout the movie, the directing combines action both close-up and distanced from the viewer in a way that keeps the audience firmly placed in their seats, void of a few jumps and yelps.
The lighting in every room creates an almost claustrophobic setting. The darkness encompasses the viewer and pushes them into the action. Even in a moment that is driving the story or developing the characters, the setting screams terror and a soon-to-fail plan.
One of the key factors of the movie that allows it to be so great is its ability to stand alone. Yes, there are callbacks and references that are put in place for Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi fans. But director Lee Cronin makes it his own through his unique writing and directing.
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One large difference in writing is the serious tone throughout the film. “Evil Dead” (2013) has a similar nature, but the campiness of the original trilogy is gone. There is no humor, but that’s not the point of this movie.
If you like horror or thriller, “Evil Dead Rise” is for you. The film combines amazing acting, makeup and set design to create an atmosphere to get scared in.
The one-and-a-half-hour-long movie packs itself with references and new nightmare material that welcome fans new and old.