Evil Dead Rise is the latest installment to the legendary demonic possession horror franchise, Evil Dead. The franchise has mainly delved into the presence of “deadites,” or a parasitic demon that plagues the people around it to possess them as well. The story in each of the franchise’s films remains to be rather uniform, with the involvement of a Book of the Dead being misused, and summoning a horde of deadites to hunt down the characters on screen. Evil Dead Rise follows three children and their distanced aunt as they uncover the Book of the Dead, and fight the demons that begin to possess their mother. With discussion of parts of the film, I’ll caution readers waiting to see the movie with a light spoiler alert.
I have never seen any of the Evil Dead films, and went to see this on recommendation from a friend, who knew I’d write this very review about it for The Free Press. Although I skipped five other movies worth of lore and mythology, this movie did not disappoint in the slightest. The opening sequence has received a lot of attention for the placement of the title card, featuring a deadite levitating over a lake after killing the film’s first victims, with the title rising up from behind the trees. The gruesomeness of the opening sequence laid the foundation for the rest of the film. The amount of violence presented was expected, though the production team was very creative in the way they went about each kill. The creativity of the gore was cringe-worthy, but the kind you’d want out of a horror movie if you like to be scared.
Where the mother, Ellie, played by Alyssa Sutherland, was the main antagonist of the movie, a lot of the cat-and-mouse elements were explored through the relationship between mother and children. The three children, whose ages ranged from nine to adolescence, allowed for different levels of intensity with Sutherland’s character in the way she interacted with her children. With the youngest daughter, Kassie, a lot of emphasis is placed on the motherly, nurturing relationship that is present between a mother and their young children. Under the control of the deadite, Ellie’s character builds upon this close relationship to have Kassie unwittingly aid the deadite in getting closer to the children, such as unlocking the door that keeps them apart, for example. I thought that this was a predictable, yet well executed element to the storyline that used the motherly figure to its fullest capacity. One line that stands out from the movie is one that the deadite says from Ellie’s body to the children: “Mommy is with the maggots now.” As a horror movie fanatic myself, this is an example of dialogue within a horror movie that makes me excited to watch movies like this.
This movie is one for horror movie fans. If you are someone who doesn’t like horror movies, stay away. If you enjoy a good horror movie, but cannot handle a lot of gore or novel violence, then proceed with caution. Seeing this in the theater with a friend had me balancing the dark tone of the movie with my own lighthearted humor by cracking jokes to my fellow movie-goer about the events on screen. According to my own Letterboxd review of this movie, “This one is for the [horror movie] FREAKS, I see.” Although the plot of Evil Dead Rise is excellent in my opinion, and could really be a standalone movie, the violence would be enough for those who are squeamish at the sight of blood to hold off on seeing this flick.