Review: Horror hits home in ‘Evil Dead Rise’
“Evil Dead Rise” currently has an 84% approval rating among critics and a 77% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes.
BAXTER — Almost nothing is as scary as when loved ones are in danger.
A family terrorized by a malevolent supernatural force in “Evil Dead Rise” knows that in the latest installment in Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” film franchise. The new release was recently at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and is available now on streaming services.
Raimi and franchise star Bruce Campbell executive produced the R-rated motion picture written and directed by Lee Cronin, who made his directing debut in 2019 with another supernatural horror movie “The Hole in the Ground,” which had a plot like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
“Evil Dead Rise” is a taut thriller that runs about 90 minutes long and is gory but not gratuitously so for a feature film about the fabled “Naturom Demonto,” Latin for “Book of the Dead.” A single mom and her three children in the film have the unfortunate circumstance of finding the tome.
With a book cover made from human skin and razor-sharp, animal-like teeth holding its covers shut against prying eyes, the “Book of the Dead” is not something one finds at the local library or at Amazon.com. The centuries-old religious artifact is more a harbinger of pain and misery.
Teen Danny in “Evil Dead Rise” accidentally discovers the cursed book at his family’s condemned Los Angeles apartment complex during a natural disaster. Rather than leaving well enough alone like anyone who has ever watched a horror movie would do, he absconds with it.
Soon tragedy visits the family, starting with his single mother, a tattoo artist played by Australian actress Alyssa Sutherland. Mostly unknown to American audiences, the lanky Sutherland uses her physical form to great effect when she becomes possessed after the book is unwisely read.
The body count soon starts to pile up and the blood begins to flow freely when well-intentioned apartment neighbors get in on the action and try to help the family. But the movie never strays too far from the audience’s emotional investment in the safety of Danny’s family and his aunt.
Another Aussie, Lily Sullivan, plays the estranged and visiting Aunt Beth, who unbeknownst to the guitar technician she portrays on screen, could not have picked a worse time to catch up in person with her sister Ellie and her brood of three young children separated from their father.
Beth is conflicted about her discovery that she is pregnant and visits Ellie for some advice and to view parenting up close and personal, to find out what it’s like to be a mom whose safety of her children is paramount, what it means to love unconditionally and learn about self-sacrifice.
In fact, when Ellie turns on her children after she becomes possessed, it’s up to Beth and the surviving family members to rally one another to save what lives they can (or their own).
Themes of family and motherhood — and a copious amount of blood and lots of body parts — are in “Evil Dead Rise.” The HBO Max-intended movie was released theatrically by Warner Bros. after positive test screenings and honors the franchise’s legacy while taking it in a new direction.
“Evil Dead Rise” currently has an 84% approval rating among critics and a 77% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.
The consensus from the critics at RottenTomatoes.com: "Offering just about everything longtime fans could hope for while still managing to carry the franchise forward, ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is all kinds of groovy."
FRANK LEE is the movie columnist for the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at 218-631-6470 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Frankfilmcritic .