Evil Dead Rise (2023), Director Lee Cronin, StudioCanal, 3.5***: Matthew Alicoon

Evil Dead Rise


Running Time: 97 Minutes

UK Release Date: Friday 21st April 2023

Evil Dead Rise follows Beth (Lily Sullivan) as she goes to visit her older sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), who is struggling to raise her three children alone. However, their reunion gets cut short when they uncover a certain book igniting the rise of flesh-possessing demons.

The film excels through the eloquent slow-burn pacing, as the core of the narrative features a unified family at the centre which allows for strong character dynamics to blossom. The family dynamic is believable but most importantly sympathetic, as the film has a real emotive resonance through the exploration of motherhood. The horror aspect deepens the richness of the story by asking what would happen if the motherhood is jeopardised and loved ones are at risk? The film has a refreshing yet personal and at times an endearing stance to itself. The narrative kicks in with elegance when the possessions start, as there is a well-defined picture constructed of the characters. The horror shrouds the film in an incredibly tragic element, as the film resembles true family terror at the roots of it. Most importantly, it is an absolute romping 97 minutes, as at times it can move at a breakneck pace. The final 10 minutes are show-stopping by being a perfect rendition of the utter absurdist nature you may affiliate the Evil Dead franchise with, it is a nicely timed jaw-dropping end. The entire cast and crew feel in their ultimate zone.

Alyssa Sutherland is the standout here, as she has to play her character complexities in a way that is malevolent but also still having roots of a compassionate and caring mother. The mannerisms are nailed perfectly, as there is a strong affinity for the pain she is conveying at times. Lily Sullivan definitely gets her moments and has some excellent scene-stealers, particularly in the second half. The harmonious relationship between the children was wonderfully portrayed.

However, the main problematic factor with Evil Dead Rise is that the film lacks the scare factor in which there are a number of reasons for this. The film is executively produced by the evil dead veterans Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell; however, the issue here is that Evil Dead Rise perhaps relies too much on what made the previous instalments worked rather than focusing on the succinct factors needed to take Evil Dead Rise to another level. Due to the lack of jeopardising horror and brutality, it does become prominent when thinking about the impact of the film, as the violence can be seen and heard but never truly felt by you as a viewer. At times, the film does feel too safe and a fresher produced spin on the horror beats could have made for a jarringly ambitious horror instalment that ever-expands the legacy of the franchise. It is worth mentioning though that director Lee Cronin had some pretty big boots to fill but he crafted a well-rounded stylistically contained drama.

Whilst there is no denying that Evil Dead Rise is a brilliantly made film, as a horror film the wow factor is unfortunately limited to specific proportions of the film. Anchored by two outstanding leads and the inseparable family bond, it allows for Evil Dead Rise to be a solid instalment rather than a mind-blowing entry. It should play to fans perfectly well but the formula is not spliced up. A very interesting watch.

My ranking of the Evil Dead franchise;

  1. Evil Dead (2013) – 5*****
  2. The Evil Dead (1981) – 5*****
  3. Evil Dead 2 (1987) – 4****
  4. Evil Dead Rise (2023) – 3.5***
  5. Army of Darkness (1992) – 2.5**


Lily Sullivan as Beth

Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie

Morgan Davies as Danny

Gabrielle Echols as Bridget

Nell Fisher as Kassie

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