‘Evil Dead Rise,’ bloody fun that respects franchise roots

Ryan Ranc, Senior Life & Arts Reporter

“Evil Dead Rise” by director Lee Cronin follows the tenants of a soon-to-be torn down apartment building as evil from beyond locks them on their floor and attempts to kill them.

Cronin clearly went into “Evil Dead Rise” with one mission: paying homage to the “Evil Dead” predecessors while crafting his own spin on the franchise’s formula. References to Sam Raimi’s original five features are sprinkled throughout the 96-minute runtime from deadite gags to the return of the Necronomicon that initiates the movie’s plot. However, “Evil Dead Rise” sets itself apart as Cronin commits to a straightforward horror flick with comedic moments rather than a comedic flick with horror elements like previous entries. The tone of “Evil Dead Rise” feels much more akin to the original “The Evil Dead” or the “Evil Dead” remake from 2013 than their comedic counterparts “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness.” With Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) no longer the franchise figurehead, Cronin’s movie sets up its own main character for future entries. Fans can find relief in knowing the return of the franchise rests in the hands of an obvious “Evil Dead” fan like Cronin.

Using mostly practical effects and never holding back, the movie’s gore aims to satisfy horror fans of all ages. Characters utilize a slew of traditional and absurd weapons from shotguns to chainsaws and even a cheese grater that the internet seems to be obsessing over. Many moments in this movie will leave audiences cheering, screaming and even gagging. Once the deadite carnage kicks into overdrive around the 20-minute mark, the practical gore never eases, making it clear that the movie wants to take you on a bloody, unrelenting ride through its entire runtime

While most of this movie will leave a positive impression on audiences, feelings about Cronin’s writing of the characters will vary. To clarify, all the actors performed superbly, especially the ones who get possessed by deadites — their performances stand out as the best possession acting in the franchise. However, because of the film’s runtime, it never feels like the audience truly has time to learn about its characters’ motivations and connections outside of surface-level traits. Cronin writes engaging characters but doesn’t give much for audiences to latch onto emotionally aside from “They are all family.” This may not be an issue for some, but “Evil Dead” has always emphasized its characters as much as its gore and deadites. In no way does this hinder the movie’s overall enjoyment, but it does leave audiences with a hollow feeling once the film reaches its natural conclusion.

The best possible next step for a long-dormant franchise, “Evil Dead Rise” never holds back in its ruthlessness, leaving the audience enjoying this gory horror flick and begging for another sequel. The well-loved franchise makes a bloodier return than ever, and in the words of Ash Williams at the end of “Army of Darkness,” “Hail to the king, baby!”

4 boomsticks out of 5