evil Dead (2013) is one of the best remakes of the horror remake boom that went on throughout the 2000s and early 2010s. It took the basic framework of young people summoning Kandarian demons via a flesh-bound tome while grotesque violence ensued. There was no Ash character or equivalent, but that is what made it great. It aspired to be different and added details surrounding the Necronomicon.
Evil Dead Rise forsakes the familiar cabin in the woods and ventures into a new realm of urban decay. A cityscape becomes an infernal playground, teeming with malevolence and the stench of rot. A new cast of characters discovers a lost volume of the Necronomicon in the depths of an apartment building and like always, everyone has a bad time.
Evil Dead Rise (2023)
Produced by Newline Cinema, Renaissance Pictures, Pacific Renaissance, Wild Atlantic Pictures
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Lee Cronin
Release Date: April 21, 2023
Evil Dead Rise is not for the faint of heart. It is a terrifying descent into a world where nightmares are given flesh and the boundaries between reality and hell are blurred. With its dark imagination, visceral effects, and simple narrative, this film unleashes a maelstrom of horror that will haunt your dreams.
Like the 2013 remake, Evil Dead Rise is more than a cheap thrill. There is effort put into making the story about something. The remake explored addiction, rise touches on motherhood themes and the long-lasting damages of absent father figures.
Set in a dank and depressing California apartment (though it was shot in New Zealand), the location already was gloomy before the three young protagonists unleash the ravenous demonic forces. Evil Dead Rise expands the franchise’s lore by revealing that the Necronomicon is three volumes.
The Book of the Dead that Ash encountered in the original trilogy is one volume. The 2013 remake featured a volume of its own. Evil Dead Rise features its unique take on the book that has its quirks that make this entry unique from the other films and impressively connects all the films in a single continuity.
The apartment setting is also a natural evolution of the cabin in the woods. When the new volume of the Book of the Dead is discovered along with vinyl recordings of the incantations, it does not take long before the residents are trapped within. From here on out, fans can expect all the grisly fun that makes this series wonderful.
The prosthetics and makeup create a visceral reaction, immersing the viewer in the abhorrent horrors that lurk around every corner. The grotesque transformations, like a ballet of flesh and bone, dance on the line between repulsion and fascination. Alyssa Sutherland as the mother, Ellie, vanishes into her monstrous character and has an utterly uncanny and unsettling stare.
The effects of Evil Dead Rise are first rate. The mix of practical and CGI is seamless and some shots will completely fool the trained eye. There is a disgusting nosebleed that is the most convincing special effects bit ever put in a horror film. The design of the new version of the Necronomicon is also weird and unique for the series.
The production design as a whole is very impressive and gorgeous. Evil Dead Rise is a very sleek and glossy-looking movie that is masterfully lit. Each scene is steeped in dread and drenched in blood, a visceral reminder of our mortality and the fragility of our existence.
Fanservice can be tasteful, like a cheeky callback to the “eyeball” ball scene in Evil Dead II or the infamous “tree scene” from the first movie. Other times it can be a bit gratifying like the use of a chainsaw in the climax. Why is there a chainsaw in the building? It made sense in the remake and originals because it was in the woods. Having it in rise is questionable and only exists because of lazy fanservice.
Something else that will distract viewers is the character of Danny, played by Morgan Davies. At first, Danny seems like one of the three daughters of Ellie. Danny’s acting, mannerisms, and appearance suggest she is another tomboy like Kassie (Nell Fisher) and Bridget (Gabrielle Echols). Danny is supposed to be an actual boy but is played by a female-to-male transexual.
As the situation intensifies and the possessions get worse, it seemed like maybe Danny’s dysphoria would have played a role in her character development. This never happens because the film panders to the actress’ delusion of being a male. It negatively affects the story because it’s a distraction and comes off as a missed opportunity.
The other tenants of the building are also wasted. Their development is very thin and only exists for a couple of scenes, to be savagely killed by deadite Ellie. Their deaths are also very quick and are borderline offscreen which is unsatisfying.
Evil Dead Rise manages to be a wild and gruesome ride from the start to its gooey, blood-soaked climax. It isn’t perfect and is not as well-paced as the 2013 remake or as gleeful as the absurd Evil Dead II.
Evil Dead Rise takes itself a little more seriously than any other entry in the series. This slightly puts it at odds with itself and the strange confusion with the cast of Danny does not do it any favors. At the very least, this is a spectacularly shot horror film that delivers exquisitely juicy gore and has many fun sequences that make it worth a watch.
Evil Dead Rise was reviewed via a 4K Blu-Ray purchase by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Evil Dead Rise is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray via Amazon.