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“Scary, gory, and with its tongue firmly in its cheek, Evil Dead Rise will thrill Evil Dead fans, and horror fans in equal measure.”

When the first Evil Dead movie came out over 40 years ago, it was heralded, rightfully, as a new horror classic. Jump forward to 1987 and Evil Dead II was released. The film was basically a remake of the original but with a bigger budget, and was yet another triumph for writer/director Sam Raimi. The climax to that film gave rise to Army Of Darkness: The Medieval Dead as it was called here in the UK. The third film in the franchise dialed down on the horror to become more comedic. And is still one of my favorite movies.

After the remake of the original film (itself brilliant in its own way), and the Ash Vs Evil Dead TV series, we now arrive at Evil Dead Rise. The fifth film in the franchise, this time we have no Bruce Campbell as Ash (although the actor does take on an executive producer role). Instead, we have Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland as sisters Beth and Ellie respectively. The film is written and directed by Lee Cronin, making only his second big-screen movie after 2019’s The Hole In The Ground. But the question is, can he pull off an Evil Dead movie that will cater to hardcore fans as well as horror fans in general?



After a long journey on the road, Beth visits her older sister Ellie, who struggles to raise three children alone in a small Los Angeles apartment. However, their reunion is interrupted when they find a strange book hidden in the depths of Ellie’s building, which unleashes horrid flesh-possessing demons.


You’re damn right he can. From the start, we are in for 97 minutes of horror, violence, and gore. The opening of the film sets the tone as it should. While this appears on the surface to be a throwaway opening, it comes into play later on. The film starts with the familiar camera shots zooming through the forest but ends surprisingly. Of course, this reveal is only a brief reprieve as the proper events kick off with a jolt that will have the audience gripping the arms of their seats. We know what’s coming but when it does, it heightens the fear we will experience during the remainder of the movie.

We then get into the real meat of the film. Beth visits her sister Ellie and her three children in their Los Angeles apartment. Ellie is struggling after her husband walks out on her. When the three children return after being sent out for pizza, an earthquake cracks the underground parking lot floor to reveal an old abandoned bank vault. When one of the kids crawls inside, he discovers a tomb that contains some old vinyl records as well as a very familiar-looking book. Along the way up to this point, we do get the obligatory jump scares but hold onto yourselves. The fun is only just beginning.



The film has everything that an Evil Dead fan could want. Laughs along the way, jump scares, horrifying imagery, and of course, some brilliant in-jokes and nods to the previous four movies. As well as blood. Buckets and buckets of blood. For the first time in ages, a film doesn’t just feature blood. It is positively dripping with it. And by dripping, I mean it is completely covered from top to bottom in it.

If you’re squeamish, give the film a wide berth as you’ll need oxygen before the end credits roll. This isn’t a film for the faint of heart, this is hardcore horror at its finest. From violence that will shock some, to the blood dripping off everything and everyone, to a gory climax that will have the audience screaming, repulsed, and cheering by the end, it makes some other horror movies seem tame by comparison. And I guarantee you’ll never look at a cheese grater in the same way again. Ever.



Lee Cronin as the writer and director of the piece has delivered in spades. The Irishman has seen what’s gone before in the franchise and has delivered his own take within the confines of the structure. And it works at every turn. Cronin here proves he is a filmmaker to watch in the future as he knows his stuff inside and out. He directs the film, frames his shots, and elicits terrific performances from the principal cast to great effect. And he isn’t afraid to take some of the established horror requirements and rip them to shreds.

The rules for horror movies don’t apply here. Cronin has got his story, looked at what he could do to shock the audience, and has put it into practice to the surprise of everyone. What you think will happen, or should happen, doesn’t happen. There is no remorse shown here. No redeeming of some things by the end credits. And how he intercuts some horrific images and actions with things that appear innocent is exemplary. The majority of the film is confined to the apartment setting for the most part, and Cronin makes the film feel claustrophobic at times which benefits the film greatly.

Some of the supporting cast do feel a bit short-changed but they do play a vital part in proceedings. Cronin has wisely, for the most part, decided that he will concentrate on the family concerned. And it pays off. We want to see how the two sisters and the children will fare throughout. We have to know what frights will visit them all throughout the film. And we have to know which of them will make it out alive if any of them do.



Lily Sullivan as Beth and Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie are terrific from the start. Ellie is the mother, and Beth is the rebel. Both have their own character arcs but once they come together, the film soars. The performances of the two actresses make us believe what we are seeing. Together, they bring enough emotion and depth to their characters to keep us all invested in them. It isn’t a spoiler (the trailers have already shown it) to say that it is Ellie who gets possessed and is the tragic villain of the film. Tragic in how she tries to fight the possession for the safety of her kids, Villain for what she does throughout. And Alyssa Sutherland brings everything to the table as Ellie, giving a frightening but emotional performance.

Lily Sullivan as Beth starts off being the usual self-centered, estranged sister. But she becomes the heroine of the film once the scary stuff really gets going. From the second Beth takes charge, Lily Sullivan gives her character hidden depth and hidden strength, making us hope that she not only succeeds in saving her loved ones but also manages to survive the onslaught by the end. Beth really goes through the wringer during the movie, but Lily Sullivan doesn’t ever play her as a victim. Instead, she plays her as someone who is thrust into the ultimate nightmare that she takes on without question. Between the pair, both actresses give us performances for the ages.



Morgan Davies as Danny, Gabrielle Echols as Bridget, and the debuting Nell Fisher as Kassie are wonderful for performers so young. All three give us performances that make us believe that they are related. Morgan Davies starts off as all bravado, the argumentative brother that feels like he has to be the dominant child among the three. But when he unleashes the terror that will plague them all, he becomes what he really is. A frightened child who has no way of knowing what to do, what he can do to battle the growing terror, and to keep his siblings safe.

Gabrielle Echols as Bridget gives a tough performance. Although her brother feels he is the true power of the three, it is Bridget that is, in reality, the toughest one of them all. She is the rock that her mother has to lean on when things get her down. And she is the one that Kassie really looks up to with love, something that Bridget returns tenfold. Nell Fisher as Kassie has the hardest time of them all. But she proves to be a versatile actress, despite her young years. Kassie finds herself conflicted as her mother deteriorates in front of her eyes. Kassie finds herself leaning more on Beth than her older siblings, and young Nell Fisher is possibly the standout of the cast.


The musical score is by Irish composer Stephen McKeon. And he delivers a score that is perfect for the film. He wisely steers clear of any cues from the previous movies to compose and perform a score that is eerie, and startling, scary in places and follows the film and its events as it should. It is a brilliant score for a horror movie such as this and every note, every cue feels fitting. As expected, the score does contain motifs that make us jump, which is a given. But the way the music flows, and the ease with which it fits into the film makes it the perfect partner to what is on the screen.

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Evil Dead fans need not worry. The movie continues the franchise with tremendous effect. Everything that you could want in an Evil Dead movie is here for us to digest and enjoy. The nods to the original Sam Raimi movies are here (as is one line of dialogue that will have fans cheering), great scares in places, and gore and blood that will make the audience gasp in shock and amazement. It is a rollercoaster of gut-busting, blood-soaked, horrifying mayhem that is a fun ride that any horror fan can enjoy.

Scary, gory, and with its tongue firmly in its cheek, Evil Dead Rise will thrill Evil Dead fans, and horror fans in equal measure. It has enough original elements to be a surprise to every audience member. And deep down, the movie has a lot of heart beating beneath the scares and gore. Lee Cronin has crafted one of the most surprising, enjoyable, and nasty horror movies of the recent age. And one that has enough original elements to stand out on its own. It is a horror movie that I will be rushing to the cinema to see again. Do you want to know my thoughts on the film? I can sum it all up in one single word. GROOVY!!

Evil Dead Rise will release on April 21st by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States and by StudioCanal in other territories.

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