An iconic horror franchise spooks its way back into theaters for its fifth installment in Evil Dead Rise from Warner Bros. Pictures. Following his well-received 2019 debut, The Hole in the Ground, Lee Cronin directs and pens the screenplay. Robert Tapert and original franchise creator Sam Raimi produce under their Ghost House Pictures banner.
A road-weary Beth (Lily Sullivan) pays an overdue visit to her older sister and single mom Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), who is raising her three kids, Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and Kassie (Nell Fisher) in a cramped L.A. apartment. The sisters' reunion is cut short by an unexpected earthquake in La La Land.
The natural disaster creates a domino effect that leads to the discovery of a mysterious book deep in the bowels of Ellie's building, giving rise to flesh-possessing demons and thrusting Beth into a primal battle for survival as she is faced with the most nightmarish version of motherhood imaginable.
It's easy to see why Lee Cronin's Evil Dead Rise is unique compared to the other franchises. This film starts with an exciting and dynamic prologue, adding a unique twist before diving into the main story. Then, it uses that same prologue as the closing scene! It all comes full circle in such an exciting way, making sure fans recognize the iconic entrance of the demon from earlier in the movie. And, of course, let's remember that fantastic pop-up title at the end - one of the best executions throughout this franchise! Evil Dead Rise hits all its marks.
One aspect of Evil Dead Rise that stands out more than anything else is composer Stephen McKeon's fantastic and gripping score. His multi-layered score meshes incredibly well with the jumpscares, creating a tension-filled yet emotionally evocative atmosphere. Director Lee Cronin does a tremendous job of maintaining this throughout the 96-minute runtime, ensuring audiences' hearts will be pounding for every second of it.
He also deserves special praise for making what some would consider a sequel too far from its predecessors feel as genuinely Evil Dead as ever; Book of Dead, chainsaws, and shotguns are all still present here! Finally, Evil Dead Rise cannot be praised enough for being one of the best gore films in 2023. It is an impressive successor to Sam Raimi's original and follow-ups!
Final Grade: B+
Evil Dead Rises opens in theaters tomorrow.