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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Evil Dead Rises: Review

Evil Dead Rise Synopsis: A reunion between two estranged sisters gets cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

When a malignant evil spirit possesses her sister, Beth finds herself in a blook-soaked battle to save her relatives in Evil Dead Rise.

The Evil Dead brand is synonymous with unhinged carnage in the horror sphere. Call it a significant blindspot, if you will, but I have little history with the Evil Dead franchise. My only experience is from watching the promising yet aggressively forgettable 2013 remake, so I felt a passive "this looks decent" after seeing the trailer for Rises over the past few months (I swear the trailer played before every movie I saw, haunting me like whatever evil demon is lurking onscreen in the franchise).

Thankfully, my skepticism melted away while watching Evil Dead Rise. Writer/director Lee Cronin shifts the franchise into the modern age with confident and technically composed results. He crafts a pulse-pounding thrill ride - a full-throttle nightmare that never lets up on its gory mayhem.

Rise should serve as a welcomed breakout for Cronin. The visionary behind 2019's underrated The Hole in the Ground shows no fear in embracing the twisted roots of the Evil Dead franchise. From the opening frame onward, Cronin and Cinematographer Dave Garbett imbue a raw kineticism into the film's vibrant visual profile that consistently enhances the material.

Dynamic camera movements dart around the screen with technical aplomb, while oceans of blood and gnarly practical effects conjure a horrific vision of the dead consuming its environment. The sleazy low-rent apartment building setting is also a nice touch, adding to the oppressive visual nastiness onscreen. I appreciate seeing a mainstream horror film embrace its gratuitous edge, never letting up on frightful ways to dig under viewers' skin. The misanthropic bite of Cronin's work truly lives up to the Evil Dead moniker.

In the narrative department, Rise is efficient enough. Cronin's screenplay borrows from a bevy of horror influences in its depiction of a woman coming of age amidst harrowing circumstances. Still, the plotline works as a compelling yarn fitting to the film's breakneck 96-minute runtime. Cronin shows an adept ability to tell his story efficiently, trimming any narrative fat but still personifying his characters and world with a skilled touch. In addition, star Lilly Sullivan impressively carries the film on her shoulders as confident scream queen Beth. Pease leads an assured cast, which includes dynamic young performances from Richard Crouchley, Nell Fisher, and Gabrielle Echols.

Evil Dead Rises comes to life as a nonstop horror locomotive. Cronin and his creative team deliver a fittingly relentless experience that unearths macabre moments with infectious glee. Perhaps the best compliment I can give the film, it left me hungry for more from the franchise.

Evil Dead Rises is now playing in theaters.


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