Evil Dead Rise

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Lee Cronin


Alyssa Sutherland Lily Sullivan Morgan Davies


Hmm, the 2013 Evil Dead reboot was… not good.


Pure pleasure. I want this on VHS so I can rewind and rewatch over and over.

In Retrospect.

Give Cronin the keys to the horror reboot kingdom.

Lee Cronin’s affectionate, gore-caked remix of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead offers an innovative and breathtaking model of how to exhume a beloved genre franchise.

Along the treacherous road to adulthood, we all set personal goals for ourselves as a way to prove that we can be self-reliant when it comes to our development as human beings. These can be epic undertakings, such as reading the entirety of Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle as a way to understand the latter half of 19th century French social history. Or they can be more modest in scale, such as in my case, where I placed a lot of formative energy into trying to see the fully uncut version of Sam Raimi’s 1981 splat-tacular, The Evil Dead.

As a teenager, I owned (and cherished) the 4 Front Video release of the film, which was subject to numerous cuts due to a hang-over from the BBFC’s much-publicised moral panic about so-called “Video Nasties”. My memory of the mangled film is vivid and fond, and I remember feeling that whoever made the cuts had done so in a way where the viewer would know that something juicy had just been excised. Like, the sound would suddenly drop out of sync, or the continuity would falter for a split second. I wanted more than anything to see what was between the cuts. I was a kid version of the “Sicko” meme. Maybe I still am?

I would love to think that writer-director Lee Cronin shared this experience, though even if he didn’t, it’s clear from his new film Evil Dead Rise that he has studied Raimi’s opus on that same molecular level. It would seem declassé to refer to this as a “franchise extension”, a “reboot” or a belated “sequel”, as the film is more of a reconstruction or a study or a remix of the original. The same story, as told from a fresh, modern angle. And it absolutely slays…

If there’s one thing the Evil Dead has taught us, it’s that we must do everything in our power to avoid intoning a mystical demonic incantation in the presence of the flesh-bound/blood-inked Book of the Dead, as very bad things will ensue. Here, Alyssa Sutherland’s single-mom tattooist Elle is getting set to move out of her dilapidated apartment block with her three kids. A tremor uncovers a dusty vault in the basement, inside which, wrapped in a parchment and held inside a bug-infested tomb is our old friend.

Cronin balances the set-up to mayhem equilibrium perfectly, laying out the fragile family dynamic while adding in the wild-card element of Elle’s estranged sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) and leaving the viewer to ponder which sibling will turn out to be the Ash of the piece. This simple but highly effective groundwork does so much to underpin the second-half gore explosion with an element of pathos, and I’ll admit there’s a simple shot which comes directly after one of the most visceral effects blow-outs that near brought a tear to my eye.

While there’s a loving homage element to the film, Cronin isn’t merely attempting to ape the hysterical dynamics and acrobatic camera moves that Raimi made his trademark. The dispatching of victims is carried out with a similar attention to detail and a desire to make each body a new canvas for some sick-making mutilation or other. Tonally, Evil Dead Rise is most like the original Evil Dead, in that it doesn’t opt for the slapstick wig-outs of the second and third films, even though its absurd humour shines through in just how relentlessly OTT everything is.

The only real criticism here is the tacked-on and pointless prologue and epilogue which feel like they’ve been added as a way to lay a path for a sequel, but I guess it’s a case of Cronin being a victim of his own success. Otherwise, this delivers the euphoric and cleansing hit of allowing a blood tsunami to crash over you. And it doesn’t make you want to revisit the original to see what could have been, but more as a way to gauge the intricacy and fidelity of what Cronin and his team have achieved. It’s like seeing the full glory of the uncut original for the first time, and I can’t be more complimentary than that.

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Published 11 Apr 2023

Tags: Evil Dead Rise Lee Cronin The Evil Dead


Hmm, the 2013 Evil Dead reboot was… not good.


Pure pleasure. I want this on VHS so I can rewind and rewatch over and over.

In Retrospect.

Give Cronin the keys to the horror reboot kingdom.

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