Evil Dead Rise: Elevating a Franchise… and my Blood Pressure

By Catherine Erskine

Executive produced by Bruce Campbell (the OG Ash himself), along with the amazing Sam Raimi, Evil Dead Rise brings the horror of Book of the Dead into an updated, urban nightmare. This disturbing ride is so fueled with terror that it left me—at 42 years of age—sleeping with a light on…. (Seriously.)

Evil Dead Rise follows Ellie, a young mother (Alyssa Sutherland) of three kids, Kassie, Danny and Bridget (Nell Fisher, Morgan Davies and Gabrielle Echols) who needs to move out of her dilapidated apartment after her recent separation. Things change, however, when she’s reunited with her sister, Beth (Lily Sullivan), a free spirit who has just returned from touring with a band. But Beth also has her own secret that she has yet to share. Then, after an earthquake reveals a room under the apartment garage, Danny discovers The Book of the Dead and some recordings from the past. As secrets are revealed, suddenly all hell breaks loose… literally.  

When I saw that the setting of Rise was going to be moved to the city, my hardened heart immediately gave way to my hatred of changing the classics. After all, that’s simply not the magic of Evil Dead. How could they do this? 

But, honestly, they did it. And it’s amazing. 

Personally, I admit that I was worried about whether or not the change in scenery would affect the franchise’s trademark combination of isolation, claustrophobic captivity and general fear of the unknown in the woods that we all know and love. However, Evil Dead Rise shows every other film that has tried to reboot a classic franchise how it is supposed to be done. The way that this film makes the viewer feel trapped and hopeless, despite taking place in a massive city apartment building was perfect.

Of course, one of the things that made the film works so perfectly was its creative cinematography. In every scene, Cronin’s team draws the viewer in but never lets them get too comfortable either. (Shout out for the peephole of the door scene!) But, more than this, the performances by its cast really stepped up as well. Working as a team together, not one of them held the other back or seemed out of place. Horror is often built on the strength of its creative team and everyone stepped up to bring the viewer on this journey with them, and made us want to root for them.

As someone who has seen every Evil Dead film (and I admit, The Evil Dead Musical *cough* twice *cough*), I was worried that this would live up to the legacy of the franchise that I love so dearly. But Evil Dead Rise has succeeded in creating an exciting, horrifying and VERY bloody new entry that lives up to the legacy of this amazing franchise. (It even gives solid nods to the original for the fans to catch as well.)

For horror fans, Evil Dead Rise is an experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen with surround sound in the dark. (And, if you are like me, sometimes through the spaces between your fingers.) 

But, maybe be ready to sleep with the light on afterwards. And know that I’m doing the same.

Evil Dead Rise is available in theatres on Friday, April 21st, 2023.

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