Many claim to have mother issues, but unless you can honestly say your mom has become a possessed deadite trying to rip apart your flesh then you might not have it too bad. EVIL DEAD RISE the latest chapter in the Evil Dead franchise is a wild look at motherhood and sometimes you just want to get rid of your kids. A series that began with the 1980 cult classic from Sam Raimi has spawned several sequels, a sort of remake and a television series cancelled all too soon. People love their Evil Dead, fans flock to anniversary screenings and bow down at the feet of Bruce Campbell. One of these fans is clearly Lee Cronin, the Irish director who helms this new story whose passion for the series shines throughout this insane bloodbath of a film. EVIL DEAD RISE doesn’t want to be a love letter but rather proof that this evil will continue and never end, no matter how much you cry for mommy.
The Evil Dead franchise has always been punk rock, so it makes sense that Cronin starts his film (after a wild but somewhat unbalanced prologue) in the seedy bathroom of a dive bar. Beth (Lily Sullivan) is getting some news that is both unexpected and most likely unwanted. It isn’t long until she goes to visit her older sister, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) who works as a tattoo artists while trying to raise her three kids in a condemned apartment building. The film moves its horror location from cabin in the woods to L.A. high tower complex, but the griminess feeling carries over. Ellie’s daughter Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) is a teen activist and her son Danny (Morgan Davies) spends his nights practice his DJing using a mixture of old and new tech. Her youngest Kassie (Nell Fisher) just wants to protect herself from the scary apartment by making weapons out of her dolls. While the introduction of the two kids could initially come off as laughable Cronin and Sutherland’s performance shows a love that only a mother can give. Ellie respects her children’s creativity and passion but it still doesn’t excuse them from keeping the house clean. Sutherland as Ellie excels at demonstrating that superpower all mothers have of multitasking while causing everyone anxiety on a whole “how does she do it” energy. But this is Evil Dead which means some very stupid decisions are about to be made. Once Beth arrives and an all too common California earthquake occurs, the kids stumble upon a book that audiences will be very familiar with. You know the drill; the book is read (in quite an amusing way) and the dead takes over someone very dear to everyone. Ellie the protector is now the hunter and away we go.
Before the screening this critic attended, Cronin said “be prepared for a lot of blood,” he was putting it lightly. EVIL DEAD RISE is not just a blood bath it is an ocean of blood, guts and everything in between. Far from just gore porn or whatever this movie is a twisted humorous display at how to make even the toughest audience member squirm. There has been a discussion early on that the film might be too “mean spirited,” but in fact RISE is just having a ton of fun and refusing to stick to what we expect from horror films when children are involved. Ellie the veteran mom now a demon forces Beth into mommy mode which allows the film to have a laugh at motherhood being thrust upon so many women even if the concept isn’t fully fleshed out. Lily Sullivan is exciting but it is Sutherland who gets to really shine. Her deadite performance is as if Jim Carrey needed an exorcism. She plays it as well to put it bluntly, wonderfully fucked up. RISE is will appeal to fans of the series as it gets to have as much fun as Evil Dead 2 while still being as absurd as Ash vs the Evil Dead. Newcomers may be shocked by shocked by the amount of violence bestowed on everyone, but this is a film that wants to tear u limb from limb and laugh the whole way through. Cronin is in on the joke the whole time as he delivers some truly disturbing moments with some humorous and unique camera work. A scene involving a peep hole is some of the more exciting camera work in horror this year and shows how these movies always know how to blend torture with comedy.
EVIL DEAD RISE may feel like another chapter in a series that has no end in sight, but it is such a fun rampage through hell that you want to come back right when it ends. Cronin’s take on motherhood isn’t one for the faint of heart. This is not a movie that will have you calling your mom afterwards in fact it will have you running away from her. EVIL DEAD RISE knows what it wants to be and never asks for your approval. Much like your own mom it knows they are in the right, even if it means your own bloody demise.
EVIL DEAD RISE WILL BE IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE APRIL 21