MOVIE REVIEW: EVIL DEAD RISE (2023)
Don't go expecting an Evil Dead film and you might have a reasonably fun night out with this exercise in gore. Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown at the screen, and some of it sticks.
However, if you go with expectations based on the early hype (set partly by the makers of the original Evil Dead Franchise) then you might feel heavily let down. Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell are all producers to some extent here and they want you to believe this is the ultimate experience in screen horror, for a new generation.
The set-up is sound with a great opening that promises much; we are definitely in bloody territory with early deaths being gruesome and sticky. As the bona fide story settles in, the air of excitement at where we are going bodes foul, however. Heading to the city is not a bad move; a fresh setting is a welcome thing. Yet, as we are trapped with one family in a single apartment, the oppressive atmosphere necessitates characters we care about. Think Lost Boys or Poltergeist for a family dynamic that makes you care about what happens to these people. It may be a modern world with all the realism and flawed ticks that go with contemporary cinema, but Hereditary did it just fine with a bunch of people in one home that you gave a crap about as nastiness seeped into the walls around them.
Director Lee Cronin can make a solid horror film that builds nicely and grabs you by the lapels to take you on a wild ride - while also making you feel yucky; he proved this with his debut A Hole In The Ground. Although Evil Dead Rise is well-made, it is a matter of blood flying all over the place and nothing actually meaning anything. We see scissors going into faces, kitchen implements used in ways that they were never designed for, young children in threat, and lifts filling into a pool of the red stuff that clearly makes you think of The Shining, but is rather redundant when two films have pulled that off brilliantly in just the last five years.
The tone is deadly serious, with the obligatory teenage angst shown in forms of protest and severe haircuts, plus a family living in dire conditions due to lack of funds, but then jokes are thrown in as fan service harking back to the comedy of the second film in the original trilogy. They don’t fit at all with all the well-meaning, earnest gloom of this effort. The remake from 10 years ago straddled the disturbing possession of innocents and crazy roller-coaster ride of an enjoyable gorefest much better.
A good horror film with its moments; not bad enough to tarnish, but also not a fitting Evil Dead Franchise flick that possibly should have stuck to the streaming source it was set up to play on. It stands alone as an okay visit to the cinema. You won’t be having nightmares, though.