Evil Dead Rise Review – Blood-Soaked Disappointment
Evil Dead Rise, the fifth film in the Evil Dead franchise since 2013’s loose remake of the 1981 classic, can best be described by one thing – its opening sequence being its most impressive scene. Not only is this statement damning in terms of any film that begins so slowly as to begin sliding downward, but more significantly because this scene takes place entirely at Evil Dead Rise’s usual cabin in the woods setting and provides two gory deaths along with the creepy reading of Wuthering Heights passage and title card shot that make for memorable viewing experience.
This sequel moves the action from Los Angeles into a high-rise apartment – an engaging setting for this series – but unfortunately fails to capitalize on that move by keeping most of it within one apartment. After an earthquake hits, one of the teens from a family at the heart of this film discovers an ancient book of the dead in a long-forgotten bank vault; along with this discovery is century-old vinyl that plays on his turntable, summoning body possessing demons known as deadites as expected in previous installments in this franchise.
Beginnings were promising for this Evil Dead remake. But quickly after mom Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) becomes infected, she becomes locked out of her apartment – leading to narrative stagnation for much of the running time of this flick.
Lee Cronin understandably wants to maintain control of the action during Evil Dead Rise, especially considering most previous films in this franchise have taken place within one location. Moving the action elsewhere should lead to new opportunities; some scenes do take advantage of its setting (including an unforgettable quote from The Shining when an elevator fills up with blood), but too often Evil Dead Rise simply misses this chance and wastes away it’s setting entirely.
It especially happens with characters who live on the same floor as the central family; all their deaths happen off-screen to sounds of bones crunching and flesh ripping – not exactly realistic for an Evil Dead movie, though that would likely work fine with other movies that didn’t explicitly include gory details; here, however, one must remember that gore is at the core of what sets these movies apart and making their deaths occur out of view feels not only silly but like the wasted potential of this more dense setting of their storyline.