The Evil Dead series has long since established itself as one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time. Not only does the series boast one of the best protagonists of all time, but it has phenomenal writing, amazing special effects, and truly stands as a love letter to the horror genre. Surprising no one, the announcement of an Evil Dead remake in 2013 was met with mixed opinions. It would be no small feat remaking such an iconic film, and many long-time fans of the series found themselves disappointed by the end product. When it was announced that the remake would be getting a sequel, everyone found themselves asking the same question: How do you remake Evil Dead 2 (1987)? The answer: You don’t.
A Spiritual Successor
With the release of the Evil Dead Rise (2023) trailer in January of 2023, it became immediately clear that this wasn’t going to be a cut and dry remake of Evil Dead 2. As the trailer itself states, this was going to be the evolution of Evil. For starters, the film brings us out of the woods and into a rundown apartment building in a crowded city. Initially this setting seems like it would cost the film some of the fear and terror provided by the cabin in the woods setting, however with how popular the ‘cabin in the woods’ trope has become, completely changing the setting for the film keeps the viewers on their toes and makes the scares far less predictable.
At a glance, the harsh differences between Evil Dead Rise and Evil Dead 2 would make it seem as though the two films were completely unrelated, however when you look at the tone the two films take, the connections become obvious. Evil Dead 2 is considered by most to be a horror-comedy, with Bruce Campbell’s phenomenal performance doing a lot to carry the film’s comedic moments. While not as outright funny as Evil Dead 2, Evil Dead Rise does feature some disturbingly funny dialogue, as well as some horrifically comedic physical gags. In the spirit of Evil Dead 2, Evil Dead Rise leans into the camp, especially when compared to Evil Dead (2013). It goes over the top with its gore in a way that makes you laugh at the sheer shock and audacity of what you’re seeing. In this way, Evil Dead Rise feels more like an Evil Dead film than Evil Dead (2013) ever could have.
There are also plenty of direct ties between Evil Dead 2 and Evil Dead Rise which support the notion that Evil Dead Rise was intended to be a spiritual successor. During a fantastically chaotic sequence where the freshly possessed Ellie absolutely slaughters her neighbors in a hallway, she bites out someone’s eye and spits it into another character’s mouth. The cinematography of the sequence makes it an undeniable reference to a similar scene in Evil Dead 2 where Ash jumps on Henrietta’s head, causing her eye to pop out and fly into Bobby Joe’s mouth. In a similar vein, a chilling scene in Evil Dead Rise features a hallway full of deadites chanting the phrase “Dead by dawn” in an incredibly similar manner to Evil Dead 2. There are some other more subtle ties between the two movies, and I highly encourage you to go through Evil Dead Rise with a fine-toothed comb to find those similarities for yourself.
One of the problems that plagued Evil Dead (2013) was its characters. To put it plainly, Ash Williams is such a fantastic protagonist, and he’s so tied to Bruce Campbell, that it’s basically impossible to replace him with another character or recast him with another actor. While Evil Dead (2013) tried its best to solve this problem with Mia, who is a pretty great character all things considered, you could still really feel the lack of Ash in the film. Evil Dead Rise solves this problem incredibly cleanly. By having the film take place in a setting we’ve never seen Ash, it doesn’t feel as though he’s missing from the film.
Evil Dead Rise dedicates a lot of time to introducing the audience to the characters, their quirks, their wants, and their fears before letting the carnage begin. This is something that felt very unique to this movie when compared to some of the other films in the series. Allowing the audience time to get attached to the characters raises the stakes of the film as a whole, and it makes it even more devastating and horrifying to see what inevitably happens to them.
Not only does Evil Dead Rise give you fantastic characters to root for, but it has one of the best antagonists the series has ever seen. While there are several deadites throughout the film, Ellie, played by the fantastic Alyssa Sutherland, has a magnetic presence that makes it hard to take your eyes off of her. She perfectly captures the horrifying humor found so often in deadites, while also filling the audience with anxiety and terror every time she appears on screen.
The Evil Dead series has never shied away from showing blood, gore, and viscera. With a lot of recent horror movies focusing far more on tension and atmosphere as opposed to straight gore, it’s always refreshing to see a movie that isn’t afraid to have some fun with violence.
Evil Dead 2 famously featured lots of different colored blood in order to avoid an X-rating, which helped add to the comedy of the film. Evil Dead (2013) used a whopping 50,000 gallons of fake blood in its climactic finale, setting a record and continuing the series trend of showing plenty of gore. Evil Dead Rise does a fantastic job of continuing this series tradition. If you still haven’t seen the film and want to go into it without having all of the best, most shocking parts ruined for you, I encourage you to drop everything you’re doing and go watch the film before continuing to read. Now, let’s discuss some violence.
First and foremost, we have to talk about that fisheye sequence. A fantastic scene in the movie takes place through the perspective of a peephole in a door. The glass of the peephole gives the scene the effect of a fish-eye lens, stretching and squishing the proportions of the characters in a hauntingly cartoonish way. Audience members then watch in horror as Ellie wrecks a bloody path through all of her neighbors.
Not only is the scene brutal and shocking, but it completely isolates the main characters and leaves the audience with a sense of helplessness and doom.
With how crazy the series has gotten over the years, Evil Dead Rise had quite the challenge when it came to showing fans something new, but it 100% delivered. At the climax of the film, Ellie merges with the now possessed Danny and Bridgett to form this horrible deadite-spider monstrosity. This adds a sickening layer of body horror to the film and keeps the audience questioning what else the filmmakers will be willing to throw at them. In the spirit of Evil Dead (2013), the film ends with main protagonist Beth grabbing a chainsaw and getting absolutely covered head to toe in blood. While it may not have used quite as much fun as its 2013 predecessor, Evil Dead Rise manages to end on a bang, cementing the film as an iconic entry in the franchise.
Whether you’re brand new to the series or someone who has been a lifelong fan, Evil Dead Rise has something for you to enjoy. It perfectly revitalizes the series and brings it into the modern day, hopefully meaning that the series has a bright future ahead of it!
Evil Dead Rise (2023) - Mommy’s with the Maggots - Malevolent Dark
Director: Lee Cronin
Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33