“Evil Dead Rise” Does It Rise to the Occasion of Its Predecessors?

Luz Analitis, Arts & Life Editor

The movie franchise reboot bandwagon continues with the release of the latest installment of the “Evil Dead” horror franchise, “Evil Dead Rise”. It was released on Friday, April 21, 2023. As a fan of the original “The Evil Dead” (1981), I immediately went to the theater to check it out the next day.

This new movie is the fifth within the film franchise. It directly relates to the “Evil Dead” universe as established in the original trilogy; however, it does not feature a continuation of the story established with Bruce Campbell’s iconic character, Ash. It also ignores anything that was set up in the “Evil Dead” (2013) remake.

Rather than being a direct continuation from “Army of Darkness” (the third movie in the original trilogy), it follows a completely new cast of characters along their nightmare of an experience with the “Book of the Dead” and the demonic entities known as “deadites” that are summoned from it.

While “Evil Dead Rise” definitely takes inspiration from the original movie, it also brings new aspects to refresh the franchise. Instead of following a group of friends in a secluded cabin like in the original, “Evil Dead Rise” follows a family: a mom, her three children and her younger sister, and the entire film takes place in a condemned apartment building in Los Angeles.

This new apartment setting adds a dark, industrial feel that brings the franchise into modern times. And using a family instead of friends, which incorporated children for the first time in the series, was also a gripping new way of exploring the effects of the “Book of the Dead” on its victims.

Another positive of the film was that it kept the allure of the originals by executing plenty of gore, creative kills and impressive practical effects and makeup. The new deadite designs, particularly the mother, are visually striking and frightening. However, I felt like they could have taken things further with the kills and violent scenes, and there were missed opportunities to ramp up the gore.

Please note that this is coming from someone who watches tons of horror and is accustomed to gory films.

For some people, the kills and gore could feel very extreme, and rightfully so! I mean it is an “Evil Dead” movie, so it is a viable expectation. For my personal taste though, I felt like there were tons of missed opportunities. Right after watching the movie, I could not help but think about all the different ways they could have made certain scenes more impactful. For example, the infamous scene involving a cheese grater that people have been buzzing about online was not as horrific to me as it could have been. Again, extremes play a big part in what makes the “Evil Dead” iconic, so I wish they took it to a higher level.

In terms of scares, I personally found the scare level of this movie to be lower than I was anticipating. Honestly, the trailer may be scarier than the film itself. Perhaps, one reason for this may be that they included many great scares in the trailer, so I was expecting them and the shock factor was lost.

At the same time though, I rewatched “The Evil Dead” (1981) a few months ago, and even despite the 80s-style visual and practical effects, it still holds up and gives me the creeps to this day. Thus, that is what makes it a classic. With that said, the scariness level of movies is incredibly subjective, so while I did not find “Evil Dead Rise” to be particularly spine-tingling, others may feel differently!

Regarding acting, the most outstanding performance was by Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie/the mom. Her acting was most impressive, especially during the portion of the film where her character is possessed by a deadite. The way she used her body movements, how she delivered her lines and her facial expressions made her interpretation of a deadite possession very unique and unnerving. The rest of the cast is pretty good. They were not bad, but I do not think they are as notable as Alyssa’s performance.

Overall, I am quite conflicted by this movie. I liked and appreciated certain aspects and creative decisions it featured, but I also feel like there were a ton of missed opportunities. In all honesty, I left the theater feeling a little disappointed. I was expecting and hoping to be scared out of my mind by this movie, and it just did not achieve that for me.

Perhaps it is just a symptom of all the hype surrounding the movie and the effectively scary trailer that made my expectations too high, but at the same time, there are tons of things that could have been done differently to have made this movie meet its full potential.

In comparison to the original “The Evil Dead” (1981) and the remake-”Evil Dead (2013)”, I would rank them as follows: #1- “The Evil Dead” (1981), #2-“Evil Dead” (2013), #3-“Evil Dead Rise” (2023).

Despite said reservations, if you are a fan of the “Evil Dead” franchise and the horror genre as a whole, I highly recommend checking this movie out for yourself because there are definitely great parts about it. It is also possible that you may find the gore, kills and scares to be more impressive and satisfactory than I did, as many other reviews say the movie as a whole is very “groovy”. (“Evil Dead” fans, please excuse my shameless quote reference there).