Yes, this is a rare post about a new release. It doesn't happen very often these days, but once every few years (Halloween 2018, The Sadness) I feel compelled to type out some thoughts on the film of the hour. That film today is Lee Cronin's new Evil Dead flick.
I had a lot of fun with this one, much more than I did with Fede Alvarez's 2013 remake. Looking back on my review from ten years ago, I was perhaps a little harsh. For what it was, it was fine, but Cronin's offering is a much stronger piece and I think a legitimately good horror movie.
Predominantly, I wager this is due to the likeable cast of characters. Apart from Jane Levy and Jessica Lucas (bless her) I didn't give a rat's ass about anyone in the remake, but here, this crew was just a nice family that unfortunately DJ'd their way into tragedy. All the performances are solid, especially Aussie Alyssa Sutherland as the matriarch-turned Deadite - do we still call them that? She brings a tremendous physicality to the role, adding pinches of The Joker and Pennywise into her portrayal to really make it sing. Some of her line deliveries really got the crowd going.
I think the fresh location (a soon to be knocked down apartment complex) really helps this movie, as well. While it is mainly confined to one floor, thus not going full Demons 2 as I had hoped, they still utilize the environment to the fullest. And not unlike the new Hellraiser, the filmmakers found interesting ways to expand the lore, in addition to keeping the effects as practical as possible.
Speaking of which, Evil Dead Rise is very bloody. VERY bloody. An estimated count of 1,700 gallons of blood seems low in comparison to the remake's apparent count of 70,000. Although, Cronin did say that due to the pandemic, blood shortages caused them to have re-use it as much as possible. Can you imagine? I kept thinking about that during the final act, man the actors really earned their pay on that stretch of the shoot. Great stuff.
Evil Dead Rise is just well put together, with good pacing, particularly once the blood hits the fan. All of the callbacks to the original trilogy - of which there are many - felt earned and not simply fan service. Additionally, there are many other classics to which Cronin pays homage, including The Shining and Aliens - the latter heavily in the climax, even down to the Horner infused score.
I think my only knock on this movie is that the bookend sequences seemed unnecessary. I imagine it served as a doorway to make more Evil Dead films, but those scenes seemed a tad clunky in contrast to the main story. A minor gripe.
Lastly, I've been thinking about why Rise works so much better than its 2013 counterpart, even rhough they share almost exactly the same tone. Perhaps it was just expectation. A decade ago, the marketers decided to plaster “THE MOST TERRIFYING THING EVER” on their posters (it wasn't), while Cronin's crew instead focused on the family element that just happens to be one of the main strengths of the piece. Oh, and they gave us cheese graters after the movie...
So, yes. I approve of this latest Evil Dead film. It was a lot of fun to see with a crowd, and if you feel so inclined I recommend you do the same.
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