Growing up on an assortment of horror cinema ranging from "Nightmare on Elm Street" to "Halloween," "Friday the 13th," "Hellraiser" and "Child's Play," I have learned an important lesson relating to the genre. Certain films related to the concept intrigue and entertain, but there is an audience that will not find the medium appealing.
My introduction to the "Evil Dead" series came in my mid-20s as I was immersing myself more into researching and watching horror. The first film is a timeless cult classic; the second follows the tradition of surpassing its predecessor; and the third outing isn't necessarily my cup of tea due to the heavy reliance on comedy rather than maintaining a serious atmospheric concept. In 2013, it received a soft reboot pushing the boundaries of practical effects, gore and violence that are immensely gruesome and entertaining.
"Evil Dead Rise" revives the horrifying tale of characters who come upon an ancient book of the dead containing incantations that when translated release demonic entities capable of possessing human beings, violating their physical, spiritual and mental essence by transforming them into unholy creatures of the dead. An estranged family finds themselves trapped in a dilapidated apartment complex attempting to survive into the dawn confronting blood-thirsty demons. It is a simple, formulaic plot like the films it has followed. An interesting dynamic separates this specific story from past outings.
Imagine yourself being faced with the reality of having to confront a loved one possessed by a spirit of pure, violent evil. There's an understanding that fighting a human who is possessed and has no sentimental relationship with you makes the decision easier. However, when its complications manifest in the form of wrestling with personal emotions in understanding that the person you love no longer exists within the confines of it being a mother, brother, sister, or niece, accepting that horror proves itself to be an emotional and horrifying realization.
Including that perspective into this film was a brilliant and genius concept because it does create the questions of us possibly being capable of making an impossibly painful decision. Actresses Lilly Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland perform amazingly in this ultra-violent gore film. Their performances mirror what organic reactions should resemble in the face of terror. Another refreshing element is the likability of all the characters. There's not one character whose presence is annoying, detracting or mean-spirited. It's rare for the audience of a horror film of this scope to want all characters in the story to survive.
The cinematic visual tone of "Evil Dead Rise" reminds me of a combination of two other horror films, "Hellraiser" (1987) and "Jacob's Ladder" (1990). The pristine camera work is kept steady while the carnage is unfolding, capturing the intense, chaotic tension and atmosphere of evil emerging from the ancient book of the dead. Significant, intense horror humor is utilized brilliantly with the dialogue of the evil Deadite articulating some of the most over-the-top, vile, venomous and grotesque language on screen. Perhaps the best way to articulate the humor is that it's not hysterical in making the audience erupt with laughter. However, laughing tends to happen in order to alleviate the symptoms of how disturbing the terror truly is.
Allow me to say this film is unapologetically violent with the presentation of gore, blood, realistic and innovative practical effects, language and disturbing imagery. I find the 2013 outing more gruesome because the body horror results in more of a squeamish reaction. However, "Evil Dead Rise" is a more intense, violent affair rather than intending to create uncomfortable sentiments. That's not to say there aren't any uncomfortable, pain-inducing moments. The truth is the film is insane, intense, bloody and disturbing from beginning to end in frenetic fashion. Once again, this is not for viewers who will find themselves disgusted or disturbed by the sight of blood.
I highly recommend watching "Evil Dead," "Evil Dead II," "Army of Darkness" and "Evil Dead" (2013) to have a clearer understanding of the characters and lore set in this universe. Overall, "Evil Dead Rise" is an exciting, entertaining, violent, brutal and gruesome affair with terrifying acting presences, disturbing practical creature effects and intense atmosphere.
The film is not for children; please do not take your children to this feature. For those interested in horror that embraces the violent and bloody content without apologies, this film will cater to the audience who grew up with these very types of films.
To anyone not familiar with the "Evil Dead" series, my advice would be to watch the previous outings to test your limits on the gruesome Richter scale.
My final rating is an enthusiastic 10/10 and two thumbs up for "Evil Dead Rise" in being part of the continuing revival of traditional fright fest-type stories.
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.
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