It sometimes doesn’t dawn on you how utterly bonkers the Evil Dead franchise still is, until you see it in a packed theatre with paying customers and witness the panicked gasps and perplexed laughs of people who are perhaps less versed in this rather insane bit of horror history.
Long-time fans of the franchise have become pretty used to the innate wackiness of Raimi’s original trilogy and the explosive gore of Fede Alvarez’s gnarly 2013 reboot. Still, watching it alongside the uninitiated, you start to realise how unique it remains in the modern horror landscape.
Evil Dead Rise certainly has issues and perhaps rehashes a little too much of what’s come before, but when revising something this nutty, does it really matter ?
The story follows guitar tech and family outcast Beth (Lily Sullivan) as she returns from her life on the road to see her family in their small Los Angeles apartment home; a distinct change of scenery from the usual cabin in the woods. The reunion, as you might expect, is cut a bit short when one of the three children unwittingly awakens a very evil presence from the infamous book of the dead.
What follows is classic reboot concoction of new and familiar. Writer and director Lee Cronin really leans into the wacky, slapstick nature of the originals with flying limbs, splashes of dark humour and some truly spectacular full body flailing.
Plenty of every day items get their time to shine (the entire screening audibly winced at the usage of one kitchen appliance) and of course it wouldn’t be Evil Dead if the beloved chainsaw didn’t make an appearance.
It’s at these moments of pure visceral carnage were the film really shines. Like the 2013 reboot, Rise understands, at least to a degree, that there’s no replacing former lead Bruce Campbell, and that the only way to succeed is to turn up the freneticism and gore that made the 1981 classic so infamous and go for it.
Some of this sticks, especially during the very bloody finale. But it’s a rocky and uneven ride to get there.
Narrative pacing just isn’t the film’s strong suit, and it often opts to change gears haphazardly, squandering some potentially delicious opportunities. Instead of a pressure cooker, we get a faulty microwave that loses the necessary momentum to bake this into horror perfection.
Tertiary characters are introduced only to be lazily dispatched. Set pieces take jarring pauses for no discernible reason.
It’s far from boring, but there’s a certain disappointment over paths left unexplored, and a feeling that we’ve had it far better in previous instalments.
Despite the faults, Evil Dead Rise, like the rest of the series is just too damn wild to fail.
Anything willing to be this outrageous is always going to make for a great cinema experience and wether you’re a long-time fan or a total newcomer, if you have the pleasure of seeing it with a rowdy late night crowd, you’re in for a good time.