I was one of those people back in 2013 who believed an Evil Dead film without Bruce Campbell was a horrible idea. I watched it and was instantly blown away. The characters, gore, and atmosphere were spot on for a modern-day retelling of the original story. The star from films past had a two second cameo after the credits and said only one word. Groovy. Unfortunately, “groovy” is not a word to describe the man. I had a table near Bruce Campbell at Texas Frightmare Weekend 2019, and he was a total jackass to his fans. That was a huge turnoff for me.
Ten years later, we have a new offering into the series and Campbell is nowhere to be found. My kind of movie. Here is the trailer:
A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
This is all you need to know.
Written and directed by Lee Cronin, this installment into the franchise takes us out of the woods and into the shittiest part of downtown Los Angeles. That would be enough to scare the hell out of anyone. No demons necessary. An earthquake hits and opens access to an undiscovered, ancient bank vault containing – you guessed it – The Book of the Dead! Needless to say, no one gets raped by a tree in this one. Good for our protagonists and antagonists but bad for the trees. Trees need love too.
This time around, I found myself rooting less for the hero “Beth” (Lily Sullivan who plays the estranged younger sister/pregnant guitar tech) and more for the possessed, older sister “Ellie” (Alyssa Sutherland). Just from the trailer, you can see she is going to shine above and beyond anyone else in this film. In my opinion, this is the best played, creepiest villain in the entire Evil Dead franchise. Sure, the earlier offerings were cool, but none of them frightened me quite like Ellie. Keep in mind that horror films stopped scaring me right about the time I permanently pulled away from my mom’s tit. Perfection, but the overall film is far from perfect.
The remaining characters, including the protagonist Beth, fail to land as far as I’m concerned. Yes, every film needs a strong villain to balance out the hero’s quest, but this film’s baddie makes the rest of her family seem so insignificant that you can’t wait for them to leave the screen. I found myself cheering on the older sister for her to mutilate everyone else in the film including the ones meant to survive the ordeal. Nope, just kill them all and survive into another sequel. That would’ve been my personal choice. Alyssa Sutherland is not the monster Los Angeles wants. She’s the monster Los Angeles needs!
Also missing from this film is the cabin from the other films. Instead, we get a slightly “meh” A-Frame that’s missing the nostalgic charm and run down aesthetic from the other Evil Dead films. I mean, it’s almost like one of the characters to me. Luckily, we don’t spend much time there at all. It just kicks off the film for us and sends us down the path into the big city. This didn’t quite work for Poltergeist III but Evil Dead Rise manages to pull it off.
The other thing that kind of led me astray was all the social media hype prior to release regarding the gore in this film. I don’t know if this was something which began with the studio or if the internet did its “thang” and made the shit up for attention. Yes, the gore was present, and it was fantastic, but there wasn’t as much as the media led me to believe. Keep in mind that Terrifier 2 has been out for a while now and many horror fans, me included, are now using that film for the bar when it comes to over-the-top traditional special effects. Nice try, Facebook, but, once again, you were wrong. I would say that we, as horror fans, need to switch over to the Slasher App for all our social media needs, but it doesn’t even really focus on horror all that much. The most “liked” posts are skin pics of women showing off their new “haircuts”. What a letdown.
In the end, I totally loved Evil Dead Rise just as much as I loved Evil Dead 2013. Neither of these films can compare to the humorous antics and cheesy special effects of the originals, but that’s okay. They seem to be doing their own thing. Comparing them to other recent horror offerings over the last few years, that quality is on point. If you really need your Bruce Campbell fix, watch Bubba Ho Tep instead. I’m sure Joe Lansdale will love you for it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Boomsticks
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