In a world of unimaginable horrors, sometimes home is the most terrifying place of all. Unearth why in our Evil Dead Rise review.
The term “cult classic” is thrown around a lot when discussing horror films, but few can claim cult status quite like Evil Dead. Making his big screen debut in 1981, wielding a boomstick in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, outlandish protagonist Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell) instantly became a fan favourite. With a series revival in 2013 and the successful “Ash vs. Evil Dead” TV series, the gritty and gory glory of Evil Dead is more alive than ever.
Ash even starred in his own videogame, released in 2022. Groovy!
And returning to the world of Evil Dead, departing its settings traditionally nestled in the wilderness, Evil Dead Rise adopts a more modern and claustrophobic approach with a brand new cast. Starring Brisbane actresses, Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan, as sisters Ellie and Beth as they defend three young children, this twisted hell of a film is truly a family affair. Series veterans Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell now producers, pass the reigns to director, Lee Cronin, to usher in a new era of fear. So prepare yourself to discover 2023’s most malevolent horror film in our Evil Dead Rise review.
Evil Dead Rise Review – Story
WARNING: some story spoilers.
There’s truly nothing more horrific than an unrenovated rental property in a state of disrepair. Or at least that’s what Beth and Ellie thought until they unearthed the fabled Necronomicon (the book of the dead) in their basement. That’s when everything goes rapidly downhill for the two sisters struggling to get by while looking after Ellie’s three children.
Make sure to return your books on time.
Unbeknownst to Danny and Bridget, who discover an abandoned bank vault beneath the apartment complex, they hold the key to the Necronomicon: two dusty old vinyl records. Letting his curiosity get the better of him, Danny spins the records, stupidly unleashing an ancient curse that was locked away a century ago. Probably should have just left them in the vault…
Beth, this is no time for sick beats, look out behind you!
Known as the “Flesh Possession Demon“, this otherworldly horror overruns the body of the first living creature it comes into contact with before unleashing its brutal assault upon all souls within its reach. With little at their disposal to defend themselves, Beth and the children find themselves trapped in the crumbling apartment, knowing that every passing minute leads them ever closer to their impending doom.
The story of Evil Dead Rise is simple and somewhat predictable, but massively enhanced through its claustrophobic apartment setting and chilling performances. Long time fans of the series will appreciate references to earlier films, whereas complete newcomers will have no issue enjoying and understanding Evil Dead Rise thanks to its standalone nature and new cast of characters.
Evil Dead Rise Review – Acting and Direction
Those familiar with Evil Dead will be well-acquainted with the series’ unique and appealing blend of brutal, in-your-face violence scattered with dark and unhinged humour. And thankfully, Evil Dead Rise is no different. This is a horror film that is equal parts cringe-inducing and amusing, with every single scene an internal battle as to whether you should either look away or fix your gaze upon the streams of blood spurting from the characters on screen.
Ash would be so proud.
This would be nothing without compelling actors, the task of which falls upon the sisters Beth (Lily Sullivan) and Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland). Prior to their demonic descent, the pair deliver a convincing performance that perfectly sets the scene of their dynamic as sisters. This is progressively eroded as the film develops and the flesh-possession demon tightens its hold upon Ellie.
As the key villain throughout Evil Dead Rise, Sutherland’s performance will chill you to the core, while somehow leaving you with a smile on your face at her snide remarks as she stalks her prey. Viewers are truly drawn into the apartment through her incredible physicality layered with terrifying vocals and a smooth blend of practical and special effects. And it only becomes more deranged and confronting the more you watch.
I’m beginning to doubt the legitimacy of this UberEats delivery.
Credit also must be given to the young actors involved in Evil Dead Rise for their supporting roles as Ellie’s children. Their sense of humour, foolishness, and vulnerability add serious depth to the film beyond its glorified violence. This is particularly true for the youngest of the three, Kassie, played by Nell Fisher who was only 10 years old at the time of the film. The contrast of the young girl against a bloodstained backdrop only adds to the horror.
Evil Dead Rise Review – Presentation and Visuals
Bloody. Brutal. Beautiful. If you enjoy horror, Evil Dead Rise will continue to surprise. Much like Silent Hill 4: The Room could create terror while entirely in an apartment or P.T. could launch you from your seat thanks to a hallway, Evil Dead Rise manages the same. Its cramped apartment setting only enhances the tension of the film, placing emphasis on being trapped while facing a horror beyond comprehension.
Like an unruly cat, Ellie will do anything to avoid having a bath.
The film wastes no time in establishing just how much of its gory glory it can assault upon the viewer, pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable to show in a cinema. And although the nature of the film is entirely fictional, the most impactful horror scenes are those that feel as real and relatable as possible.
Everyone’s accidentally grated off a piece of their finger at some point, right? So it’s even easier to be able to relate to scenes like the infamous cheese grater, depicting believable violence that will quite literally leave the entire crowd wincing in pain.
Evil Dead Rise Review – Audio
It’s difficult to make a film sound just as revolting and distressing as it looks, but composer Stephen McKeon certainly manages. His blend of eerie strings, flourishing orchestra, shattering percussion, and mythical chants draws out the atmosphere in Evil Dead Rise like blood seeping through a wall. There are tracks that sound genuinely beautiful, which helps those that are disturbing seem even moreso. Just take a listen:
“Los Diablos” is tender and beautiful, yet disturbing.
Proving to be the most devilish track, “Incantation” will give you chills.
Beyond its music, the sound of Evil Dead Rise simply must be experienced in the most immersive environment possible to have its full intended impact. When viewed in a Dolby Atmos-enabled cinema, the rumbling sound system is thunderous and will have you shaking in your seat. Literally. Scenes throughout the film sound phenomenal and heighten the tension through the sheer range of audio – from imperceptible whispers through to eardrum-piercing shrieks and everything in-between.
Evil Dead Rise proves that the cult classic is alive and well more than ever before, even without its iconic protagonist at the helm. Sullivan and Sutherland deliver astounding blood-soaked performances that even Ash would consider groovy and scenes that will make you never look at household objects the same way ever again. With a brutal and bloody blend of physical horror combined and a claustrophobic environment to place viewers on edge, you’ll want to look away but find it impossible to wrench your eyes from the screen.
So, why should you watch Evil Dead Rise?
- Superb and believable performances from the entire cast
- Over-the-top entertaining action sequences
- Clever blend of practical and special effects blurring the line between reality and fiction
- Hard-hitting sound that must be experienced in a cinema
- Claustrophobic and atmospheric setting adds to the tension
But why shouldn’t you watch Evil Dead Rise?
- Don’t do well with over-the-top gore? You might want to avoid this one
- You prefer slow-paced psychological horror
- You enjoy Evil Dead for Ash and Ash alone
A screening was kindly provided by Warner Bros. Australia for the purpose of our Evil Dead Rise review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our film reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about upcoming movies.
As a long time fan, this is very well done and a very welcome addition to the Evil Dead’s other fantastic iterations. Just a gutpunch of a movie with fantastic sound design, performances and the thing we want to see in Evil Dead. Heap and heaps of gore.