Evil Dead Rise (2023)

Sam Raimi perfected the cabin in the woods formula with “The Evil Dead” and as a series it’s managed to grow and evolve in to something different but just as good. The new sequel to the “Evil Dead” series places us in to an urban setting now, turning a dilapidated apartment complex in to pure hell. It’s amazing what Lee Cronin pulls off, carrying the torch for Sam Raimi and turning this new setting in to an absolute hellscape for the Deadites. You can seriously sense Sam Raimi’s company had their hands in the development of “Evil Dead Rise,” as this sequel is everything we’ve come to expect from the franchise, only with just a little more spice added in.

A road-weary Beth pays an overdue visit to her older sister Ellie, who is raising three kids on her own in a cramped L.A apartment. The sisters’ reunion is cut short by the discovery of a mysterious book, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis deep in the bowels of Ellie’s building, giving rise to flesh-possessing demons, and thrusting Beth into a primal battle for survival as she is faced with the most nightmarish version of motherhood imaginable.

Like the previous movies, “Evil Dead Rise” is a no nonsense and intense fight for survival against ruthless deadites. As always the deadites are about as manipulative and cunning as ever, and they take no prisoners when it arrives at the doorstep of a hapless family. Like most of the movies in the “Evil Dead” Universe, “Evil Dead Rise” is very allegorical, as the deadites prey upon a very vulnerable moment in this family’s life. “Evil Dead Rise” is very much about family, and the horror that can come with raising and protecting children. When we meet Beth she’s facing a period of her life where she’s uncertain if she’ll even be able to care for someone else.

All the while we meet Ellie, a mom facing a terrible break up who is doing everything in her power to keep her family together. When the two sisters unite, they’re in a state of limbo, and this allows the Necronomicon to take advantage at every turn. Like previous films helmed by Raimi, “Evil Dead Rise” packs in just about everything you’d want in a sequel. Cronin’s direction is superb, transforming the entire movie in to a pulpish nightmare. He bathes every scene in blood and gore, and looks for every chance to take the everyday apartment setting and transform it in to a waking nightmare. The most popular scene in rotation, involving the peephole, is put to great use throughout the entirety of the sequel.

It thankfully never gets old, and Cronin never runs out of tricks. Even the apartment upon which the film primarily set becomes a terrifying crevice of this setting draped in shadows and uncertainty. Cronin successfully pulls great performances from his entire cast including Lily Sullivan and Nell Fisher. Alyssa Sutherland, however, is the spotlight as the primary deadite whose transformation and penchant for sadism is absolutely terrifying. The excellent make up matched with her incredible take on this monster will certainly help cement her as one of the most memorable horror villains of the year–probably of the series, as a whole.

“Evil Dead Rise” thankfully lives up to the anticipation in every respect, and is a stellar step forward for the long running horror series. Like its predecessors it’s decidedly small scale, but claustrophobic and just nothing but pure epic shocks and jolts from beginning to end.