Directed by: Lee Cronin
Written by: Lee Cronin
Starring: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher, Richard Crouched
Released: April 20, 2023
Grade: B+

Evil Dead Rise

The setting is a rainy, lightning-filled evening in a dilapidated apartment building.  The catalyst is an old, mysterious book discovered in a cavity beneath the underground basement.  The victim is a single mother who has been possessed by an unexplained, demonic presence.  None of these plot points are original within the horror genre (they’ve been used time and time again) but Evil Dead Rise works because its simple nature and above-average production values.  It knows what it wants to be and doesn’t try too hard.

The title allows it to be included within the Evil Dead franchise but it’s as much marketing as anything else.  There are no returning characters from earlier instalments (except a scratchy voice on an old record) and it operates as a stand-alone movie.  For those new to the brand, the original 1981 flick launched the career of filmmaker Sam Raimi and while he’s gone on to bigger things (like the Tobey Maguire helmed Spider-Man trilogy), he remains connected as an executive producer.  Newcomer Lee Cronin has now taken the reigns as writer-director.

Evil Dead Rise has received an R-rating here in Australia for its “high impact horror violence.”  It’s hard to argue with that classification given the gruesome, gory fight sequences and the farcical amount of blood.  The make-up crew and visual effects team have done a stellar job making these characters look as sickly and creepy as possible.  Composer Stephen McKeon and the sound technicians add to the edge-of-your-seat vibe with an array of sharp, piercing sounds.  If you’ve got a slight headache, perhaps this isn’t the best movie for it.

It’s an American production but there’s a strong Australian connection given the cast includes Lily Sullivan (Mental), Alyssa Sutherland (Vikings), and Morgan Davies (The Hunter).  Once we get past the short introduction and into the carnage, they go a genuine job either being scared… or scary.  I’m sure stunt doubles were involved but they also find themselves contorting their bodies into uncomfortable positions and being thrown across the room.

Offering a dash of creativity when it comes to the brutal deaths (thumbs up on the shredder), Evil Dead Rise clocks in at a tight 97-minutes and, for fans of the genre, provides sufficient entertainment.