Evil Dead Rise18¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
It all started with a short that director Sam Raimi made in 1978 called Within the Woods; it was shot with a tiny budget, with the director calling in favours from his friends to appear in it, such as Bruce Campbell, hoping to attract investors into backing a full feature.
Luckily for Raimi, they did just that, which saw Raimi helm his very first studio picture, 1981’s The Evil Dead.
Although this is considered the fifth entry in the series, Irish director Lee Cronin only leans into the mythology of the franchise, using it to create an almost standalone piece.
Having been busy on the road as a sound technician – and not a groupie as her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) keeps on telling everyone – Beth (lily Sullivan) finally gets time to visit her sister and her children Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher).
And it turns out she’s missed a whole bunch too, none more so than the fact that they’re all getting kicked out of their apartment as the building is soon to be condemned.
It’s not difficult to see why, when they all experience a pretty weighty earthquake that rocks the entire building. So much so that it opens up a hole in the underground car park, which the girls discover on their way back from a pizza run. Intrigued, Danny climbs down in it, to discover a large vault, that’s open. Inside she finds a curious book and some records, which she decides to take with her.
When back in the apartment, Danny finds a way to open the book, which reveals some demonic imagery. But that’s not the only thing, as by opening the book, and paying the accompanying records, Danny has unleashed a pure evil that is determined to tear their family apart - literally.
When Irish director Cronin opens his film, he does so in familiar territory for both the horror genre and the franchise itself, in an idyllic woodland area, reminiscent of the first ever film. But it is all a ruse, as he quickly shifts the scene to a more suburban and claustrophobic setting, that predominately takes place on one floor of an apartment building. So from one familiar horror setting to another, in what essentially is the haunted house.
As mentioned, the script, which Cronin also wrote, borrows just enough from the Evil Dead, using the book of the dead as a tool to unleash all hell. But he also borrows more generic tropes from the genre, specifically that of women playing the victim, being as they are the target for all things evil. However, with a nice twist, they also play the villain here too, albeit in physical appearance, as they get possessed by the horrors they’ve unleashed.
As well as horror, there are also echoes of another classic, in Ridley Scott’s 1986 Aliens; there are clear nods to it, with a horror taking place in a confined space, and a relationship developing similar to that of Ripley’s protective relationship over young girl Newt. On top of that, there are ducts used overhead, and a pet cat, that is no doubt a spiritual successor to the cute Jones from the Nostromo. But if you’re going to pay homage to another film series, Alien isn’t a bad one to use.
It should be mentioned that the mostly female cast do extremely well, especially when you consider all the bloody gloop they all encounter. And young Brit Fisher, in her first major film no less, certainly shines, despite all of said gloop, and looking truly at home in this horror flick at only 11 years of age.
It’s a film that is gloriously bloody, and one that should be applauded for being squarely aimed at an adult audience, as so few films are these days, with its 18 certification. It’s obvious from the outset what Cronin’s intentions are, and that’s to scare the living daylights out of you, and he’s relentless in doing so in his attempts, as the blood gushes.
Perhaps the one area Cronin could work on in future is his storytelling; this is all a little bit too generic and unoriginal, as once he sets up his main premise, he sticks with it solidly throughout, with no deviations.
Still, as a brutal, cinematic gore-fest, it doesn’t disappoint, with Cronin most definitely bringing the Evil Dead franchise home.