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  • Nate Adams

'Evil Dead Rise' review: Blood, blood, and more blood please

Courtesy of Warner Bros.


If you don’t like gore or have a weak stomach, you should steer very clear of “Evil Dead Rise,” the fifth installment in the generational series that showers the cast in gallons of blood. You may want to bring a towel yourself. A tightly wound chamber piece which moves the action from the cabin in the woods to a run-down apartment complex, “Evil Dead Rise,” is as campy, silly, and fun as the previous iterations, including Fede Alvarez's nasty 2013 remake that got rid of comical one liners and put lead star Jane Levy through the ringer. Here, Alyssa Sutherland, who slays, is given the deadite treatment, transforming from a nurturing, loving mother into a possessed succubus eager to gnaw the heads off her three children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.   

That’s the beauty of the “Evil Dead” franchise. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why these creatures resurface, but it usually has something to do with stumbling upon the dreaded book of the dead and despite pleas from sensible people urging them to get rid of it, the temptation to see what lies within its pages always wins the day. In this case, after an earthquake rattles their building, a hole in the ground surfaces and teenager Danny (Morgan Davies) uncovers not only the book, but a pair of vinyl records filled with incantations. That evening, without thinking about their family, sisters Bridget (Gabrielle Echoles), Kassie (Nell Fisher), aunt Beth (Lilly Sullivan), or mommy dearest, Danny fires ‘em up on his turntable and all hell breaks loose. 

Originally slated for a streaming release before new leadership shepherded it into theaters, writer-director Lee Cronin (the OG’s Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are producers) makes the most out of little. Moving locations into a soon-to-be demolished apartment complex allows for plenty of claustrophobic shenanigans, including a terrifying sequence unleashed through the lens of a doorbell. It’s inventive and unique pivots like this that allow “Evil Dead Rise” to stick the course and deliver on the shock value. Oh, and having buckets upon buckets of blood (plus a chainsaw) certainly fits within the “Evil Dead” brand. 

As Ellie, the unfortunate soul who gets chosen by the grueling demonic entities, Sutherland deserves to live in the “Evil Dead” hall of fame. The brute force physicality and creepy vocal cadence are the stuff nightmares are made of and the movie wouldn’t be nearly as effective without her in the driver’s seat. Cronin also tows the line between camp, at one point an eyeball is ripped out of a socket and then spat into the mouth of someone who chokes on it and dies, and seriousness. The bond a mother shares with her children is an interesting angle the “Evil Dead” franchise hasn’t uncovered in its storied history. I hope they keep turning out “Evil Dead” movies every 10 years for the rest of eternity. 

Grade: B 

EVIL DEAD RISE is now playing in theaters. 

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