Evil Dead Rise (2023)
Director(s): Lee Cronin
Writer(s): Lee Cronin
Starring: Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher
The gift of objectivity is something that if earned, can truly make life a lot more enjoyable since something can be taken at face value rather than bombarded with the noise that surrounds a particular subject. Having said that, being objective to anything can be a struggle for most, especially when we’re talking about fandom. It’s hard to be objective AND a fan because at first glance, they seem to be constantly conflicting with each other since being a true fan means, yes, you are passionate about a certain movie/character/etc. but on the other hand, it seems that enjoyment of the intention of the art is thrown out the window because again, you already had an expectation with your personal feelings. Therapy much?
Yours truly definitely struggles with being objective when watching horror sequels/remakes/reboots/etc. because it’s difficult to not have expectations when any artist decides to slap the name of an existing series/character to their vision and expect the audience to go along. However, I think as a fan of the horror genre in general, it’s my responsibility to remain objective to all horror flicks, regardless of the title because it’s my goal to enjoy what the genre has to offer and if I’m constantly analyzing how something fits instead of artist intent, then I wouldn’t enjoy as many movies as I possibly could, which to me, is unacceptable as a fan.
My favorite horror flick is Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. In short, it’s a movie that I discovered when I was a young kid, in the middle of my horror journey and it was just amazing how something that had such wonderful jump scares and gore also produced a hero figure for me (love you Bruce Campbell). A perfect movie that hit all my expectations of what the horror genre can be so yes, it has a special place in my dark heart. You can imagine how much I had to crank the objectivity knob (probably to 11) when I heard about Evil Dead Rise. There was a remake back in 2013 which I actually enjoyed but this was different. This was claiming that it was a legitimate sequel to the the first three legendary flicks from the Evil Dead franchise. When you remake something, I see it as your attempt to re-tell a story that exists within your vision. However, if you are making a sequel to something and you had nothing to do with the previous flicks, my subjectivity and bias meter starts to flicker since your intent is to ADD to the story.
As I watched the movie, there were parts where I sincerely forgot that this was a sequel to my favorite movie of all time. The cast was solid with Alyssa Sutherland specifically giving me the creeps on the level of Asian Ghost ladies. The gore was beautifully done with scenes that almost made me want to close my eyes but being a professional, I found myself clapping instead. The storytelling and backdrop of the story was interesting because this movie finds itself in a nearly condemned building in the city rather than the familiar settings of the woods which was pretty refreshing, albeit sometimes frustrating since I kept thinking that escape would be much easier but again, there are tons of horror flicks where putting yourself in the action is a sign of a great flick. However, there were TONS of callbacks and ties to the original series that make you remember that this was a legitimate sequel to what has come before. Yes, Ash Williams existed. Yes, the book of the dead is still the catalyst to the mayhem but now it’s called the Naturom Demonto instead of Necronomicon although both translate to Book of the Dead. Yes, there are plenty of throwbacks that reel you right back in to the world you know and love.
I came to realize that the intention of Evil Dead Rise was not to just simply make an effective horror flick but to attempt to expand the world into future movies/series/etc. This felt like a fan that realized that it was not simply enough to make a sequel but to ensure that this series would expand into other flicks which would in turn make new fans of this particular series go back to the original trilogy so they can enjoy where all this came from in the first place. As a fan of the series, I respect the intention. Whether or not it will get there, we shall see but the fact that this movie was able to stand on its own as a great horror flick with the right amount of jump scares and gore and still managed to keep some doors/windows open to expand the Evil Dead universe is something to be celebrated. Director/Writer Lee Cronin has my respect for being a fan of the content but also wanting to give it to a new generation in order for it to live on and spew its bloody goodness to a new generation.
The balance of wanting to be loyal to the source material while wanting to expand the franchise is quite the burden but through the movie, you can see that the film was made with love and intention. There was a wonderful balance between giving the audience something new while giving enough Easter Egg throwbacks to tie everything together. The performances from the cast was a nice blend of being young, yet not annoying and we get a heroine who has something to fight for besides surviving which was a nice enough difference/touch to make you want to cheer for their survival. I do hope we keep building from this universe because there were plenty of clues that if permitted, there are more sinister stories to be told.
In summary, if thy heart be pure and intention golden, you have a place in my FEARTastic Vault. Welcome Evil Dead Rise, come sit amongst your macabre family.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.