Tuesday 9 May 2023

REVIEW: Evil Dead Rise (2023) - Starring Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland

Review by Jon Donnis
With all these horror remakes and reboots, it is time for another attempt to resurrect the Evil Dead franchise. Unfortunately, this is not a Bruce Campbell film. Nor does it seemingly have anything to do with the awesome Evil Dead TV series. It is also not a horror comedy. It is a straightforward horror film about demons and the undead.

The film starts off at a lakeside cabin, where cousins Teresa (Mirabai Pease) and Jessica (Anna-Maree Thomas) and Jessica's new boyfriend Caleb (Richard Crouchley) are attacked by Jessica. She scalps Teresa, decapitates Caleb, and then levitates above the lake. Now, quickly forget about that.

The day before this horrific event, Beth (Lily Sullivan), a guitar technician who has just found out she is pregnant, visits her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) in a condemned Los Angeles apartment complex called Monde Apartments. Ellie is a single mother to teenagers Danny (Morgan Davies) and Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and young child Kassie (Nell Fisher). An earthquake shakes the building while the children are in the basement parking lot, revealing a hidden chamber that contains religious artifacts, three phonograph records from 1923, and a strange book. Danny takes the book to his room, thinking he can sell it to help Ellie. The first record describes a priest's unsuccessful attempts to research the book, which is one of three volumes of the Naturom Demonto. The second record reveals that the priest continued his research in secret and performed an incantation that summons demonic entities called Deadites.

Ellie is attacked and possessed by an unseen force, and she returns to her apartment in a trance, threatening her family. She dies after pleading with Beth to protect her children. Beth and Ellie's neighbors lay her to rest in her bedroom and search for a way out, but they find that the staircase has collapsed, the elevator is damaged, and the fire escape is inaccessible. Ellie is revived and attacks the family, but they manage to lock her outside the apartment after she kills the neighbors. Bridget is injured in the process.

The rest of the film is basically your typical horror film.

Now I have to admit I wanted to hate the film as it does not have Ash (Bruce Campbell) in it, but annoyingly this is a pretty decent horror film. Lots of gore, tons of blood, inventive kills, great visual effects, and some decent jump scares. It ticks pretty much all of the boxes you would expect for such a film. There is even a bit of chainsaw action! And at 90 minutes long, it is a decent length.

The Good:
Great visual effects, strong performances by Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland, a decent if unoriginal story, and some great chainsaw action in the final scene.

The Bad:
No Ash. No comedy. Doesn't really feel like an Evil Dead film to me.

This film would be so much better if it weren't tacked onto the Evil Dead franchise. If it were just its own film, it would avoid the comparisons, but I understand that just by having the Evil Dead name, it means more people will watch it.

As a horror film in its own right, it is enjoyable, if you are a fan of the genre, not for the weak-stomached. Lots of gore, and lots of blood.

I score Evil Dead Rise a fair 7/10.

Out now in cinemas and on digital at https://apple.co/3Bc86xu