Bring on the Mommy Dearest from Hell.
The rules of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” franchise are basically simple. You read from an evil book, you become possessed, and if you cut other people, they become possessed, too. The latest entry “Evil Dead Rise,” isn’t written or directed by Raimi, but both he and original star Bruce Campbell are executive producers, while the original producer Robert Tapert is back in his position, and the new writer/director is Lee Cronin (“The Hole in the Ground”).
I’m pretty sure moviegoers will be racing to see “Evil Dead Rise” over “Beau is Afraid,” because they’re what I like to call “Horror Moths,” who love scary things that are in the commercial spectrum, especially since Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema distributes it. “Evil Dead Rise” is no jumpscare; it’s a smart and clever entry that knows how to use characters who learn from their mistakes and how to use a lot of fake blood.
This time, we have two estranged sisters-Beth (Lily Sullivan) and Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland)-who both reunite under different circumstances. Beth is a guitar technician who finds out she’s pregnant, while Ellie has her hands full with three kids: the DJ Danny (Morgan Davies), the activist Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and the weirdo little sister Kassie (Nell Fisher). But this reunion won’t last very long, because an evil book gets discovered by the older brother, and Ellie gets possessed and says so many horrible things no living mother would ever say.
As you might expect in an “Evil Dead” movie, more people get possessed because the evil Ellie (who isn’t really Ellie) attacks more people, and it’s up to Beth to be the hero of the night.
Yes, it has its cliches regarding the family life of these characters, but it has its moments of craziness and energy. There’s a power outage during this chaos, but we’re still able to see how these characters react to whatever comes from Hell. We get a serious amount of blood with moments that rip of “Fargo,” and, obviously, “The Shining.” And a lot of shocking WTF images. The kind you don’t want to even feel.
Sullivan does a good job playing a woman who goes from being insulted as a groupie to a woman who loves her nieces and nephew enough to protect them. Sutherland transitions from the struggling mom to Mommy Dearest from Hell with the right kind of creepy vibes. And Fisher is often smart and entertaining as the movie little sister, who is far from generic.
Kassie is the girl who becomes convinced that her mother is back to normal, and she asks her to unlock the door so she can come in. When she does, the evil Ellie comes back. That’s when she learns her lesson. The stupidest little sister I’ve seen in a horror film of recent memory was in “The Curse of La Llorona” back in 2019. She has to risk her life for a doll by accidentally damaging the one line that could save her, and thus, ultimately, getting sucked by the title demon. Kassie is smarter than that girl, and I’m glad she’s written that way.
She’s also smarter than her older brother who has to find and take the evil book. You should never, never take a book that looks evil. But then again, we probably wouldn’t have an entertaining “Evil Dead” entry like “Evil Dead Rise.” Let the blood and gore commence.