Film Reviews

Evil Dead Rise review: Dir. Lee Cronin

At first glance, Evil Dead Rise appears to break new ground for the long-running horror franchise. Gone is the isolated setting of the cabin in the woods, now relegated to a brief cameo that serves as a little knowing wink to camera. Instead, the bulk of the terror takes place on the rainy streets of Los Angeles, where a family living in a decaying apartment building becomes the latest target of the Necronomicon’s malevolence.

Said family is that of Beth’s (played by Lily Sullivan), who returns home from life on the road to visit her estranged sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three children. The happy reunion doesn’t last long though, as an earthquake reveals a buried room deep beneath the building that contains a nightmarish book made of skin and written in blood, which unleashes a terrifying evil presence that possesses Ellie.

It all appears pretty fresh and original on the surface, with slightly higher stakes attached than those in previous Evil Dead films, but by the time the movie reaches its climax, the film’s lack of originality becomes all too clear. Yes, the setting and scenario may be new territory for the franchise, but in terms of the wider horror genre, it has nothing special or unique to offer, and ultimately fails to distinguish itself or even warrant this different approach.

The premise has a lot of potential but director Lee Cronin repeatedly plumbs for obvious set-ups and pay-offs. As a result, the film coasts on the tried and tested Evil Dead formula, but fails to add anything exciting or new to the mix. Like with Fede Álvarez‘s 2013 Evil Dead, the amount of gore on display is immense, but whereas in that film the gore felt disturbingly real and visceral, here it lacks the wincing, stomach-churning factor that made the previous entry so disturbing and effective. A death scene early on involving an eyeball is particularly lacking and utterly stupid to boot, yet not in the fun Evil Dead II manner – instead, it immediately takes the audience out of the movie.

These moments render the intended scares ineffective, but the reliance on bog-standard, false-start jump scares proves early on that the film has nothing clever in its repertoire. The climactic confrontation takes proceedings to the extreme with some rather disturbing body horror, but a bit too daft and out of step with the grim tone of the preceding 75 minutes to be truly effective. And thus, ultimately, the film fails to terrify in every which way imaginable.

It doesn’t help that barely any of the cast react to the horror in a believable manner. The characters need to be terrified for the terror to work, but here the actors mostly sleepwalk through the motions with barely a believable reaction between them. Of the cast, Alyssa Sutherland is the stand-out, delivering an unnerving physical performance as possessed mum Ellie, her freakish contortions and expressions adding a lot more to an otherwise standard possession character. As for the rest of the cast, only Morgan Davies as brother Danny feels emotionally in-tune with the material, though he is sadly afforded very little to do besides being either slightly panicked or sorrowful.

Gory but never scary, new but never revolutionary, Evil Dead Rise has moments of tension and a few inventive flashes, but for the most part, it pales in comparison to its predecessors in the franchise. The new setting offers opportunities aplenty for gory household injuries and keeps the characters confined in a small space with a monstrous presence, but the script and direction never do anything exciting with these opportunities. As such, Evil Dead Rise crashes back down to the ground all too quickly.

Evil Dead Rise is released in UK Cinemas on 21st April


One thought on “Evil Dead Rise review: Dir. Lee Cronin

  1. Oof… you literally could not be more wrong about this movie imho. As a hardcore Evil Dead fan, I hated the previous “Evil Dead in name only” remake and had an absolute blast with this awesome new movie that gave me everything I could want in an ED movie that hasn’t got Bruce Campbell in it.

    4.5 outta 5 stars for me.


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