HomeReviewsReview: Can "Evil Dead Rise" Keep the Series Alive?

Review: Can “Evil Dead Rise” Keep the Series Alive?

As soon as I was old enough to get into the world of horror films, my father wasted no time introducing my brother and I to Evil Dead II. Not realizing it was the film that featured the chilling box art of a skull with piercing blue eyeballs staring at me from the top shelf of my local video store in the late 80s that gave me nightmares, I dove right into it and was in love from start to finish. I was that 90s teenager with a huge Evil Dead poster on my wall after that. I went with my father to the opening night of Army of Darkness in theaters. It shaped me in many ways. So, every time a new Evil Dead project is announced, I’m ready to go. But can anything live up to those Sam Raimi helmed masterpieces? 

Beth (Lily Sullivan) is a guitar tech for an unnamed, but popular band that has been touring the world. When she is back home for a show with some unexpected news that will change her life, she decides to drop in on her sister, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her kids for some close family bonding. A 5.5 earthquake hits the area though and everyone is a little freaked out. The earthquake also just happened to open a hole into a sealed off part of their building, and when Ellie’s son Danny (Morgan Davies) finds some strange items that have been sealed away for many years, this family ends up bringing an ancient darkness to their already creepy apartment building.

The Evil Dead series (though maybe not its intention from the start) much like the world of Mad Max has a strange and inconsistent continuity string. While it has now helped in bringing new content to viewers without having to worry about a long, specific string of events, it has also created a strange rift. Though many fans can fall in love with each entry into the world of the deadites on a singular level, we are left with two worlds of Evil Dead. There is the often comedic world of Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, and the Ash V. Evil Dead tv series. And then there is the serious side of Evil Dead, Evil Dead (2013), and the new Evil Dead Rise

The more horror centric entries of Evil Dead in no way are bad, and maybe I’m in the minority, but an Evil Dead project to me is not really Evil Dead without that patented Raimi style and humor. Evil Dead Rise works just fine as a bloody romp meant to creep the audience out and bring them to the brink of utter disgust. But why does it need to be an Evil Dead film? Take out the new Harry Potter style Necromicon, the call outs in the form of Henrietta’s Pizza, Chainsaws, and the admittedly brilliant “dead by dawn” recreation, and you have a perfectly serviceable horror film.

When I saw Army of Darkness on its opening night, when a deadite finally irked out a classic line; “I’ll swallow your soul,” a kid in the third row jumped up out of his seat and screamed at the top of his lungs, “SWALLOW THIS!” Much like that kid, I was ready to revel in the delights of classic Bruce Campbell deliveries when “I’ll swallow your soul” pops up in Evil Dead Rise. But as the urge washed over me, it felt wrong. This was a sour and serious toned film. Even in a room full of fans (I hope my colleagues are fans), the sense of humor feels out of place. 

Evil Dead Rise, much like Evil Dead (2013), is its own film. One shouldn’t feel the need to compare it to its parents. And while Rise is gory and effective, it is less over-the-top in its Rise opens with a new version of the Raimi invented POV shot, and there is even a good old eyeball in the mouth scene; but all the flare and inventiveness of the original films is gone. That twisted view that never gets old is what stamps the Raimi Evil Dead world with a certain mark of approval that I miss. It appears in the first episode of Ash V. Evil Dead (which he directed) and is carried through the series by the rest of the team. Get mad at me if you want, but I want more of that.

Evil Dead Rise is a completely competent film that is well worth your money– even if the wrap around story that exists to push a sequel feels disjointed and unnecessary. But I really want that Sam Raimi style back. Any good film under the Evil Dead banner not helmed by the man himself is doomed to never reach the heights of those classic entries. Though, I’m always ready for someone to prove me wrong.

Final Grade: B-

Check out more of Matthew’s articles.

Matthew Schuchman
Matthew Schuchmanhttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
In the early 90s, while at the video store with his friends who wanted to rent Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Matthew asked the clerk if they had any copies of Naked Lunch available. A film buff from an early age, he would turn his fascination into his own review site in 2010; Movie Review from Gene Shalit’s Moustache. From there, he provided his voice to such publications as Den of Geek, Coming Soon, and Verbicide magazine as a film reviewer and talent interviewer.


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