[The following review contains MINOR SPOILERS AND VIVID DESCRIPTIONS OF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
Evil Dead Rise gets off to a slow start. Very slow—almost interminably so. Following a promisingly gruesome cold open, the story shifts into exposition mode: the setting is established, conflicts are introduced, characters are gradually developed, et cetera. And that’s fine. Hell, it’s necessary: these are the seeds that, with proper cultivation, eventually blossom into an engaging plot, keeping the audience invested in the action. But revealing relevant narrative information requires a certain command of rhythm that director Lee Cronin seems to lack. Thus, the film’s entire first act flows about as smoothly as a trickle of molasses… or Kensington blood.
Fortunately, the pace picks up considerably as the body count rises. Once Alyssa Shutherland’s Ellie is possessed by the Kandarian Demon, the movie becomes the sort of gleefully gory, queasily grotesque, utterly bananas thrill ride that fans expect from this series. Victims are dismembered, disemboweled, and dissected in myriad malicious ways. Eyes are gouged out, heads are severed, scalps are peeled clean from the skull. Flesh is pierced and gashed by shards of glass, sewing shears, tattoo needles, and cheese graters. Maggot-infested bile is vomited by the gallon. And all the while, the delightfully sadistic Deadites mercilessly mock and taunt our hapless heroes. Their incessant quips and cheesy one-liners strike a delicate balance between humor and menace, lending the violence a darkly comic tone without ever diminishing the stakes.
Ultimately, Evil Dead Rise succeeds despite its minor blemishes, delivering laughs and chills in equal measure. If nothing else, it proves that this franchise’s familiar premise can be just as terrifying in an urban environment, if not more so. After all, when you venture out to a remote cabin in the woods, you pretty much expect to be tormented by supernatural forces.
When Evil follows you home, however, the horror feels significantly more intimate.