When a film series embarks on a fifth outing, the challenge of keeping things fresh and original while also being new and creative can be a massive obstacle. Horror series like Halloween, Friday the 13th, SAW, and A Nightmare on Elm Street all faced issues with moving the series along while trying to stay true to the original film that inspired them, and in every case, failed to capture what made the original film a hit.

Evil Dead Rise is not only the latest entry in the series, but a bold take on the cinematic series as it abandons the remote cabin setting of the first two films and the reboot in favor of an urban setting.

The film opens in a remote lakeside locale before jumping a day earlier to California, where estranged sisters Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and Beth (Lilly Sullivan) reunite. Beth has been working as a guitar technician and bristles that her sister refers to her as a groupie. Ellie is raising three children after their father left and informs her sister that the building they are living in is scheduled to be demolished, so they will have to move soon. This is a shock to Beth, as she has learned that she is pregnant and is trying to figure out her life, all the while seeing what she thought would be a source of stability for her upended.

The arrival of an earthquake allows access to a hidden area in the parking garage of their building, and since the locale was a former bank, the kids soon find a hidden book and records, which the only son Danny (Morgan Davies) hopes he can sell, despite his sister Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) admonishing him constantly to leave it alone and return it to where it was found. The book turns out to be a Necronomicon or “Book of the Dead,” and as fans of the series know, nothing good ever comes from one. Thanks to playing old records left by a Priest describing his thoughts on the book, a summoning incantation is read, causing Ellie to become possessed and unleash grotesque carnage and terror on her family.

What follows is a gory and, at times, intense game of cat and mouse punctuated by moments of levity, as the demonic infestation knows no end. The film has the over-the-top gore that is expected of the series, and the makeup and effects are very effective. Writer-Director Lee Cronin has done a great job capturing the tone of the series while moving it forward, cleverly incorporating lines and nods to the series without making them seem forced.

Some may find the excess of blood too much, but the series is known for taking things to the extreme. The blend of horror and comedic parody is what made the original film such a success.

In the end, Evil Dead Rise does enough to keep fans of the series happy and hopefully, we will be seeing a new entry in the series in the future.

Evil Dead Rise is written and directed by Lee Cronin, and stars Mirabai Pease, Richard Crouchley and Anna-Maree Thomas, and released in theaters on April 21, 2023.

3.5 stars out of 5


Gareth Von Kallenbach
Gareth Von Kallenbach

Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.