Evil Dead Rise

10 years since the Necronomicon last unleashed a torrent of boring on unsuspecting moviegoers, the Evil Dead are back in this perfunctory prequel.

“Evil Dead Rise.”

This time the Book of the Dead is discovered beneath a car park like Richard III, before trapping some children in a tower block, also like Richard III. When their possessed mother (Alyssa Sutherland) tries to kill them in their apartment, it is up to their pregnant aunt (Lily Sullivan) to fight back and bring about the Tudor period.

The feminine twist is a welcome addition to a series that essentially depicts the demonic rape of women, giving the reluctant heroine dominion over her unwanted pregnancy – even if all she learns about motherhood is the value of sending children to their room. Still this is more thematic and character development than the remake managed, with decent performances reanimating its stiff remains.

Yet the problems of its predecessor persist, ignoring the original’s cartoon energy in favour of grey family drama. It is baffling to see the franchise that invented the modern horror/comedy now embarrassed to be funny. The series is meant to be silly, dumb, anything but boring. But the Evil Dead don’t actually rise until halfway through the film, and even then it is to murder some people of colour off screen.

For all its CGI and bloodied utensils, Rise shies away from showing its cheese-grater gore, and again is afraid to scare anyone. It’s all Halloween makeup, extraneous Necronomicon detail and an argument about using guns (in an Evil Dead movie), while references to A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shining and Terminator 2 further dilute what little connection it had to the original in the first place.

Lee Cronin injects more fun than the previous version, relishing the fight against the Deadites and including a Lovecraftian creature instead of 2013’s tedious torture porn – though retaining that arduous tone and dull aesthetic means we barely see it. Maybe recapturing the spirit of the original is difficult without large quantities of cocaine. But the TV show managed it, not to mention countless imitators from Demons to Dog Soldiers. So why are the only people who don’t remember what an Evil Dead film looks like the same people consistently tasked with making them?


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