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Evil Dead back on the ‘rise’

Over the past few years horror fans have watched a pretty severe evolution in their cinematic genre. It feels like filmmakers and production studios have wanted to move away from the classic horror tropes of films like ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and ‘Scream’ and the result has been the so-called ‘more intelligent’ and ‘politically inspired films’ like ‘Midsumma’ and ‘Get Out’.

By David Griffiths

Saturday 29 April 2023, 11:00AM

Alyssa Sutherland in Evil Dead Rise (2023). Image: IMDb

Alyssa Sutherland in Evil Dead Rise (2023). Image: IMDb

The question is, though, is that the kind of horror films that horror fans want? A quick survey of horror forums online and a chat to fans at conventions will tell you no. The average horror fan doesn’t want a film that is going to preach at them or make them overthink ‒ they just want a good plot, something new and a little bit of gore.

That notion hasn’t been lost on indie filmmakers who have been flooding the streaming platforms with well received horror films and now it feels like the big studios are listening because Evil Dead Rise is a good throwback to the horror films of the past.

Directed and written by Lee Cronin (Ghost Train), Evil Dead Rise loses none of the savagery of the past films in the franchise and perhaps even ramps it up with a psychological element that few horror fans can match.

This time around the Kandarian Demon is accidentally let loose by a group of kids, Bridget (Gabrielle Echols – Reminiscence), Danny (Morgan Davies – The Hunter) and Kassie (newcomer Nell Fisher) when an earthquake opens up an old basement in the run-down apartment building they call home.

The result is catastrophic as the demon soon starts its fun and games within a family already on tender-hooks. While Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland – Vikings) has been struggling to look after her children after her husband unexpectedly left, her sister, Beth (Lily Sullivan – Picnic at Hanging Rock), has been away touring with bands. Ellie sees that as Beth wasting her life rather than living her dreams and she is even more hurt by the fact that Beth has not once asked her how her life has been going. It is the perfect playground for a demon hell bent on causing destruction through possession.

As previously mentioned, Evil Dead Rise is a pretty savage film – but that certainly isn’t to its detriment. Instead, it enhances the film and while there are sometimes when those audience members who don’t like particularly gory scenes will find themselves having to look away from the screen, the fact that Lee Cronin has made the film so confronting actually enhances the suspense of the film.

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It is established very early on after the possession that Cronin’s intent with this film is to explore the dynamics of the family at hand. And while watching a mother turn on her children might not always make this film a comfortable watch, it does indeed give this horror a platform that we have seldomly seen on screen. Once it is also established that anything is fair game for the demon, it also raises the suspense of the film to the point where most people watching it will have their hearts racing.

Given the topic at hand here it is not surprising that the actors have a field day with their performances. Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan are sensational, especially when they square off, while the child actors here find themselves also carrying huge chunks of this film on their shoulders as well. Echols, Davies and Fisher are brilliant as they soldier on through whatever is thrown at them, even the gallons of fake blood poured all over them, and all three should be finding themselves getting some pretty meaty roles off the back of their performances here.

Another smart part of this film that audiences may want to watch out for is the smartly written opening and finale. While the opening scenes of this film feels quite out of place while watching the actual film, don’t worry because Lee Cronin’s screenplay is smart enough to tie everything together remarkably well by the closing credits. It’s not often that you get to praise a screenplay with a horror film, but this is one that certainly deserves it.

Evil Dead Rise is certainly a throw back to the good old school style of horror and the result is a film that delivers what horror fans have been calling out for – good old-fashioned gore within a creative story. While this is certainly not a film for the faint hearted it will be lapped up by true fans of the genre.

Evil Dead Rise is currently screening in Phuket and is rated ‘18’.

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus 

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