‘Evil Dead Rise’ Is A Modern Take on Evil Dead (In Other Words Not As Good)

I’m always wary of movies with the word “rise” or ”rises” in them. In the ’90s and early 2000s, almost every movie message board would have one person who claimed to have insider information on an upcoming anticipated release. And almost every time the name of whatever sequel would have “rise” in the title. You know, like, “Oh Star Wars Episode II is going to be called The Rise of the Empire. You just wait and see.” (It wasn’t). That’s why I was pretty shocked when a Star Wars movie actually did resort to using “rise” and, well, that movie is terrible. There are more examples: The Rise of the Machines, Rise of the Silver Surfer, even The Dark Night Rises. It all kind of signals, “We are out of ideas here.”

Now comes Evil Dead Rise, which would be a serviceable enough horror movie if it wasn’t shoehorned with the Evil Dead moniker. If this were called, I don’t know … The Demon Apartment, yeah, sure, okay. But since this is an Evil Dead movie, I expected something more fun and wacky. This is just a dimly lit, pretty generic horror movie that has kind of a fun ending, but that’s about it.

For people who haven’t seen the original three Evil Dead movies, they are kind of hard to explain. They aren’t really scary. The first one comes the closest to being at all frightening. The third film, Army of Darkness, which I love, might as well be a cartoon. They are all playful and, again, wacky and a lot of that comes from both director Sam Raimi and the central character in those stories, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell).

Unfortunately, in Evil Dead Rise, there’s no one even remotely close to capturing the, let’s say, emoting style of Bruce Campbell. And director Lee Cronin does a serviceable job of mimicking the frantic style and shots that Raimi made famous in the first three, but it seems inconsistent. When it does happen, it feels too much like an homage than an integrated part of the story. (Also, for no good reason, there’s a shot of elevator doors opening with a pool of blood rushing and splashing into the hallway. I guess I at least have to respect the chutzpah of trying your own version of a shot from The Shining.)

Beth (Lily Sullivan) is visiting her sister, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three kids. An earthquake hits the apartment complex opening a hole in the parking garage, which contains the Necronomicon, which we know is bad news and anyone looking at it should know it’s bad news. Anyway, it’s opened and the evil spirits start attacking. (Just once it would be nice to run into a Nice Dead.) There are a couple of good kills (one, in particular, involves a severed eyeball landing in someone’s mouth), and some of the imagery, on paper, sure does look like an Evil Dead movie. I mean, hey, there’s a chainsaw. It’s not used in a goofy way as someone’s literal hand, but it’s there.

It’s like someone was given all the ingredients to the recipe to make an Evil Dead movie, but didn’t know what temperature to cook it at. And Evil Dead Rise is a few hundred degrees short of where an Evil Dead movie should be. But a film like Barbarian comes closer to the spirit of the Evil Dead movies than this does. The pace should be manic, wacky and hilarious. Instead, it’s just kind of grim. Like I said, if this were just a new story, it would be serviceable enough. But, instead, it’s being sold as a modern take on the Evil Dead franchise. Which, I guess, just means it’s dimly lit and is not near as good.

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