Over the past few years, I have noticed a severe evolution in the horror genre.
Gone is the style of the classics I grew up with such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream. Instead, we have seen more so-called ‘intelligent’ and ‘politically inspired films’ like Midsumma and Get Out. And I’ll be honest, some I have enjoyed, some I have downright despised. True horror fans want a return to the old school horror style with films that aren’t going to preach to them but will still have a good plot and a little bit of gore.
That notion hasn’t been lost on indie filmmakers who have flooded the streaming platforms with well received horror films. 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, 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 lose by Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies), and Kassie (newcomer Nell Fisher) when an earthquake opens up in an old basement at the run-down apartment building that they call home.
The result is catastrophic as the demon soon starts having its fun and games within a family already on tender-hooks. While Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) has been struggling to look after her children since her husband unexpectedly left, her sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) has been away touring with bands. Ellie sees Beth wasting her life rather than living her dreams and she is even more hurt by the fact Beth has not once asked her how her life has been going. It is the perfect playground for a demon hellbent on causing destruction through possession.
While Evil Dead Rise isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea as the savageness of it, including the confronting gory scenes that Lee Cronin has created, only enhance its suspense. Cronin has cleverly used the film to explore the dynamics of the family at hand. Watching a mother turn on her children might not provide viewers a comfortable watch, but it does give a fresh view on the horror a platform that we have seldomly seen on screen. At times, families can be brutal and this is certainly shown 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 against each other. But I feel a lot of credit here must be paid to the child actors. Not only do they impressively carry huge chunks of the film, Echols, Davies, and Fisher are brilliant as they soldier on through whatever is thrown at them. There are times where they have gallons of fake blood poured on them, are still expected to perform dramatic scenes, and they don’t miss a beat. I get the feeling that all three should be finding themselves getting some pretty meaty roles off the back of their performances here.
Evil Dead Rise also impresses in its written opening sequence and finale as there were times when I found myself wondering why the opening sequence was there, but then I became surprised at how Lee Cronin’s screenplay tied it all in with the finale. It’s not often that I find myself praising a horror film’s screenplay, but this is one that certainly deserves it.
Evil Dead Rise is certainly a throwback 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. Evil Dead Rise it will be lapped up by true fans of the genre.