Just When You Thought it was Safe to Open The Book of the Dead
Score 9/10 - Highly Recommend
Posted by Anthony DeRouen | June 7th, 2023
A gore-filled pleasure cruise through Sam Raimi's original creation, spun up with a new family in a new setting.
*** SPOILERS TO FOLLOW ***
The Evil Dead has experienced it's up and downs throughout its lifespan. While the original Evil Dead was a masterpiece the sequel was....the same thing? I also know I'm in the minority when I say Army of Darkness was shit, plain and simple. It played out more like Conan the Barbarian than anything else. Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead was thoroughly pleasing even if critics derided the ended, and I honestly had fun with Ash vs Evil Dead's first two seasons. You could tell by season three they knew the end was near.
Which leads us to Lee Cronin's Evil Dead Rise. The film starts off in typical Evil Dead fashion: a couple of youngsters vacationing in a cabin. The ending of this short sequence is pulled out of The Exorcist, but it conveys the everlasting power of the Deadites.
The real story begins in an apartment building of all places, involving a family on its last legs. Beth, the mother, (played by Lily Sullivan) is trying her best to keep her family together, however cracks are beginning to show. This lends the possession scene to become all the more tragic. A switch in Lily's performance turns on, and I was blown away by her range. She exuded a perfect, haunting blend of mother and demon which was obviously the core focus of the narrative. Throughout the film the children are compelled to help their mother while warily keeping their distance. This push and pull is the crux of Lee Cronin's effort.
I want to touch on one aspect that was discussed at length in the lead-up to Evil Dead Rise's release, and that is how the children would be portrayed. Let's be honest here: people get torn up in Evil Dead movies. Limbs fly everywhere! Meatsaws to the arm! Chainsaws to the face! I'm happy to report this facet was done with care. It's still an Evil Dead movie, mind you, but the blood fits with the narrative. There was one particular scene, however, where Bridget( played by Gabrielle Echols) realizes she may turn into a monster with tentacles bursting from her mouth. The filmmakers pulled back and went with the standard blood dripping from mouth, much to my disappointment.
The body count is surprisingly high, and I enjoyed the hive mind aspect the demons can partake across their victims. No one is really dead until you release them of their limbs. And as grim and dire as the film appears to be it wouldn't be an Evil Dead movie without an over the top final confrontation. Lily Sullivan's demon mother gets put through a wood chipper as well as the ubiquitous chainsaw to the head.
This is a horror film worth seeing on the big screen on a Friday night. If you haven't seen it you better hurry because the summer flicks are pushing everyone else out rather quickly.