The Evil Dead franchise, once a mere trilogy, now spans numerous continuities and mediums. But Evil Dead Rise takes a new approach by not only returning to the franchise’s roots – but bringing them to an all-new setting.
The film, as hinted in the title, takes place in a high-rise apartment complex. But don’t expect an abrupt change to the classic formula. Of course, there is a cabin in the woods as shown in the film’s trailer, but it’s far removed from the iconic locale. In fact, this cabin is more inspired by director Lee Cronin’s Irish background, and it’s later removed completely as the setting moves to the city.
As mentioned, however, the classic formula remains intact. The apartment building intelligently substitutes for the first movie’s cabin. Likewise, the other interiors of the building are treated like the forests which once attacked the original film’s Cheryl. This makes the doorway to our protagonists’ apartment the substitute for the cellar door which kept the later-possessed Cheryl trapped.
So, while the setting is changed, many classic elements are still used to great effect. Similarly, the film recognizes the franchise’s notoriety for bloodshed. And it delivers this on a visceral level. Unlike the 2013 remake, however, which likewise focused on gore; Evil Dead Rise includes a healthy dose of comedy. Though gags are restrained on that front. Just enough to not be too much like Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness.
And while Ash Williams, the hero of the original trilogy and TV series Ash vs Evil Dead is absent, the other protagonists do a great job of carrying the film. The characters are all part of a single family which brings them closer together than anyone from previous films. In fact, this makes the violence and death much more palpable.
Lily Sullivan’s Beth comes into the mix, and much like viewers, she has to learn this family’s situation. As such, she’s drawn into their lives, and once the carnage starts – she has to fend for them all. This is mostly because Alyssa Sutherland, who gives a wonderful performance as Ellie, becomes possessed early on. And just as the protagonists offer dynamic personalities and interesting roles – she does the same as a deadite. In fact, Sutherland’s Ellie is perhaps the most emotive deadite character we’ve had yet.
Although deadites are often known for playing with their victims’ emotions, the entire main cast of this film is part of her family. And so, as mentioned, it’s very straining to see them at odds with one another. It’s something the Evil Dead franchise has never quite tackled before, and especially not on such a dramatic level. Thus Evil Dead Rise has some great character moments from a cast that also includes Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, and Nell Fisher who gives a fantastic performance as Ellie’s youngest daughter Kassie.
There’s definitely a lot to enjoy about Evil Dead Rise if you’re an Evil Dead fan. Once you look past the absence of Ash – you can appreciate the dark yet fascinating world Evil Dead Rise has to offer. Especially with there still being a few nods to its predecessors thrown into the mix. If this is any indication of the quality for future Evil Dead projects, then we’re going to be in for a good time.