Written and Directed by Lee Cronin
Characters by Sam Raimi
Starring Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher

Evil Dead Rise is a movie that pushes the franchise further along the serious path of the remake. For me it is better than anything else in the franchise, except possibly Army of Darkness.

The premise begins with a delightful play on the original’s cabin in the woods locale. From there, we skip, improbably, to one day earlier in Thailand. We discover Beth (Sullivan) behind the scenes of a concert as she makes a discovery that she is with child.

Beth heads to Los Angeles to get help from her sister Ellie (Sutherland). She discovers that her sister is in dire straits as well. The father of Ellie’s three children has chosen child support over actually being a parent. To make things worse, the high rise that their apartment is in has been condemned to be torn down within a month. After sending the children out for pizza, an earthquake shakes the foundation of the building, opening up the parking garage downstairs to something that should have stayed entombed.

From this point, the film takes on a form of claustraphobia one may not expect to find in the midst of such a large building. How and where the evil erupts will be left to the viewer. Suffice to say the first two acts of Evil Dead Rise are as entertaining as any horror released in the past few years. There is tension built on well staged camera angles and bursts of rage mixed with humorous lines.

The best thing about the film is that it does not spare the innocent. If you think someone should survive because they did no wrong, think again. The acting of Beth and Ellie is great, especially once one of them is infected by the evil. Young Kassie (Nell Fisher) steals the show, however, with her wide eyed innocence that makes some good decisions and some not so good. It’s been a long time, perhaps since Poltergeist, since someone so sweet has been put through so much hell.

The film has a final act that gives the viewer nothing close to the earlier tension or logic. Even so, the first two acts more than make up for an overdrive meant to hide an inability to create a plausible ending. Not to mention the fact that the calculation of “one day” requires an innate knowledge of math and time zone changes.

If one is a fan of creative gore, Evil Dead Rise has it in spades. Moreover, the ability to work in an ironic sign for the weight limit on an elevator at a crucial moment is a great example of the touch that Cronin has with the material. It’s a film that will not soon be forgotten, though its no sure bet that one would want to watch it again too soon.

(**** out of *****)

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