Evil Dead Rise
So, right off the bat, people may wonder where this fits with any sort of 'Evil Dead' canon. Well, I don't entirely know what's what when it comes to 'Evil Dead' canon, timelines, etc. But I also know that 'Evil Dead' is a certain breed of horror where each individual film in the franchise is its own ride. In my opinion, it works similarly to something like 'Friday the 13th', in that a fluid timeline doesn't really matter because we're here to have fun. We come to these movies to treat them as something similar to a gimmicky haunted house tour.
With 'Evil Dead', it's about gallons of blood, extreme gore, hellish entities, and the lengths the hero will go to survive. Well, I'm happy to say that even though this chapter takes us out of that old cabin in the woods and into the city of LA, all the right components are still there. The film DOES open back in a cabin/cottage-like environment where the movie lets you know really fast that it's not here to mess around. I'm not going into any further detail about that, but I will say that it's a treat for fans of this stuff. It gives us what we came for immediately, and then our story gets going.
This time, the story revolves around a family of five. First, we meet guitar technician, Beth (Lily Sullivan), who's fairly upset about a new pregnancy. This leads her to drop in on her sister, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), a single mother of three. At one point during the visit, the three kids, Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) head out for a few odds and ends, and upon their return, the apartment complex is shaken by an earthquake. This opens up a concealed space in the parking lot which Danny explores, finding three phonograph records from the 20s, and one of three volumes of the Naturom Demonto (or Necronomicon: The Book of the Dead).
Everyone gets back safely, but Danny uses his turntables to listen to the phonograph records (I dunno that this would actually work, but why not?) and as these things go, an incantation is said out loud, those good old Deadites are summoned, and we're in for a fun, gore-filled ride as per usual. This time, however, there's a bit of a twist on the usual. Here, it's not a bunch of friends, but a family being tormented by these dark forces, potentially making "doing the right thing" that much harder. Just to raise the stakes, we also bring in a pregnant woman and a preteen girl, which cause the imagination to run wild, wondering how safe they could be in a movie this intense.
With that, I have to give this chapter full credit for balancing the psychological horror with the gore we all came to see. Although on the surface there's so much similarity to the previous films, there really is an added layer of tension to this one when you stop to consider some of its aspects. One of the best parts of this movie is actually little Kassie, in that she is a little girl faced with absolute nightmare fuel, and we manage to feel her fear as it happens to involve the family she depends on. It adds a whole new level of helplessness to the horror and it's such a good move to give the audience the right feeling.
The 'Evil Dead' franchise is what I'd consider an acquired taste, however. Much like those aforementioned haunted house tours, they aren't necessarily for everyone. I even consider my relationship with them to be somewhat strange. I don't like torture porn, but there's a lot of stuff throughout these movies that still do a good job of making me squirm. But I appreciate the "squirms" these ones give me. For example, the original's "pencil through the ankle" scene provided us with an excruciating visual that was actually quite quick, but due to the reaction of the victim, it really sticks with you. I'm glad to say that this one is no exception with those creepy, messed up, intense visuals.
I wasn't entirely sure what to think about this when it first came out. It almost felt like the concept of 'Evil Dead' was starting to run its course with the finale of 'Ash vs Evil Dead' back in 2018. It all sort of seemed that it would reach that point of "more of the same". Yet somehow, some way, 'Evil Dead Rise' managed to give us some new stakes, change up the roles of the main characters, change the location of where things were going down, and STILL give us fans what we came to see. The blood and gore still come in buckets, it makes the viewer uncomfortable by using both visuals and dialogue and above all else, it's a fun, if perhaps sick and twisted time! Just remember not to take things too seriously here - it's a funhouse ride, not a bloody Oscar contender.
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