Sunday, April 23, 2023

Evil Dead Rise is Worthy of the Franchise Name

Evil Dead is tied with Friday the 13th for my favorite horror franchise of all time, and the first new theatrical entry in 10 years did not disappoint. Evil Dead Rise is a great addition to the franchise, and the type of horror movie we just don’t get enough of these days. Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise brings us somewhere new, and even expands the lore of the Evil Dead universe, while maintaining a connection to everything we know and love about the franchise.

The bulk of the story takes place in a soon to be demolished L.A. apartment building, where our hero Beth comes to visit her sister Ellie, her nieces Bridget and Kassie, and her nephew Danny. Unfortunately for all of them, their evening plans are about to be interrupted, on account of a certain book, and some words that bring the bad things.

The cast are all great, led by Lily Sullivan as Beth and Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie. Their sisters are the core of the story, and both are fantastic in their roles. This film had a budget of $19 million, and likely spent almost all of it on practical effects, which should make everyone happy. While the gore in Evil Dead Rise doesn’t quite reach the levels of the 2013 film, its high points are as good as any in the franchise. 

I will stay away from spoilers, but I loved how Cronin has expanded the lore of Evil Dead, as it  respects everything that has come before, and leaves every possibility for future stories open. He threaded the needle perfectly. There are also some great Easter eggs throughout the film, not just for this series, but some other horror classics as well.

I think that’s what makes Evil Dead as a franchise so impressive in 2023. The series is over 40 years old, and it feels as fresh as ever. I adored Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead with Jane Levy, and with Evil Dead Rise, this is now two great entries in a row without Bruce Campbell, which most fans would have thought impossible. And we’ve also gotten a ton of Ash-related stories in between these two films, including comics, a video game, and three seasons of the Ash Vs. Evil Dead TV series. As producers, Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert have done a great job of shepherding this franchise, strengthening the foundation of the original films and making great choices with these two latest entries. I can’t wait to see where they take us next.

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