The first film of the trilogy, The Evil Dead, as well as its 2013 remake, were so horrifically gory that they were actually banned in various countries including Finland, Ukraine, and Singapore. That should have been my first clue that I would hate this movie.
Eight months, one Covid lockdown, and 6,500 litres of fake blood went into making the latest in the Sam Raimi “Evil Dead” series, this one entitled “Evil Dead Rise” and shot in New Zealand. Its Irish director, Lee Cronin, earned a Saturn award nomination for Breakthrough Director at Sundance. I had high hopes upon entry to the World Premiere on Wednesday, March 15th, at SXSW’s Paramount Theater.
I was game to sit through “Evil Dead Rise.” As a former active voting member of HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and the author of three novels some might call “horror,” this would be right up my alley for “The Color of Evil” trilogy author.
If 80% of a film’s success is casting, this one started out wobbly with a freakishly tall and extensively tattooed leading lady, Alyssa Sutherland. The tattoos may not have been real and the Australian actress/model’s height is listed as five feet eleven inches, so take those comments with a grain of salt. I didn’t buy any of the actors’ performances.
The synopsis read: “A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them int a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.”
I reviewed film through the eighties, when slasher films were all the rage. After about twenty in a row, I swore off the entire series of films that attempt to entertain you by thrusting a knife into someone’s throat (Kevin Bacon in one memorable eighties cabin scene) or gross you out by having excessive projectile vomiting.
This film has taken the worst of those gross-out concepts and amplified them. If that’s your thing, as it seemed to be for the man next to me who was laughing hilariously and thoroughly enjoying this movie, then go for it. If this audience member hadn’t been very large (and blocking the aisle to exit) I might have left before the end, but, thanks to Mr. Laugh-A-Lot, I couldn’t escape. I saw the entire film (as did the heckler.)
Watching an eyeball fly across the room from a severed head and someone else inadvertently swallow it: gross. Buckets of blood in an elevator that bursts forth? Derivative of “The Shining” but with much less plot justification.
During the Q&A for the film, Bruce Campbell was brought onstage, the original Ash of the first 4 films, who raised the $350,000 for the very first film that Stephen King championed and ended up playing a lead in subsequent films (but not this one.) This new version moved from the woods to the city
As Campbell (“Ash”) was speaking, an apparently inebriated male theater-goer in the audience shouted out, loudly, “This movie effing sucks” (profanity euphemism substituted). Campbell demanded that the man—already on his way out— be removed from the Paramount Theater. (It made all the papers.)
You’ve been warned.