“Evil Dead Rise,” the latest entry in the beloved horror franchise, arrived with the promise of a fresh, urban take on the iconic Deadite menace. Trading woods for concrete, it plunged a young mother, Beth, into a nightmarish battle for survival within the confines of a decaying Los Angeles apartment building. While the film boasts commendable elements like stellar practical effects and a committed central performance, a nagging sense of missed opportunity lingers. Let’s delve into the shadows and explore where “Evil Dead Rise” stumbles despite its undeniable strengths.
Confinement Without claustrophobia: The film’s setting, a single apartment building, holds immense potential for claustrophobic terror. Imagine the creeping dread as Deadites ooze through ventilation shafts, burst from cramped closets, and turn familiar hallways into perilous gauntlets. However, “Evil Dead Rise” often fails to capitalize on this potential. The building feels strangely spacious, and the camera rarely lingers on the oppressive closeness that could truly amplify the horror. The sense of isolation, a hallmark of classic Evil Dead entries, is also somewhat diluted by the presence of other tenants, even if they become Deadite fodder soon enough.
Humor on the Edge: The Evil Dead franchise has always walked a tightrope between bone-chilling horror and slapstick humor. Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams embodied this balance perfectly, his quips and one-liners punctuating the gore with bursts of dark hilarity. In “Evil Dead Rise,” the humor feels more forced and uneven. Some moments land effectively, particularly Beth’s sardonic asides, but others fall flat, disrupting the film’s unsettling atmosphere. The balance between laughs and screams feels off-kilter, leaving audiences unsure whether to cringe or chuckle.
Deadite Déjà vu: The Deadite threat, while undeniably gruesome and creatively rendered, lacks the fresh menace of the earlier films. Their antics, while brutal, often feel like retreads of past Deadite mayhem. We’ve seen the contortionist limbs, the possession-induced hijinks, the gooey body horror. While the film introduces some new twists, like the monstrous amalgamation formed from possessed tenants, they don’t quite capture the raw, unsettling novelty of the original Deadite menace.
Beth’s Burden: The film hinges on the performance of Alyssa Sutherland as Beth, a single mother thrown into a maternal apocalypse. Sutherland delivers a commendable performance, conveying Beth’s desperation, resilience, and flashes of dark humor convincingly. However, the film relies too heavily on her. Beth’s emotional journey takes center stage, often overshadowing the horror elements. While her character arc is compelling, it comes at the expense of a truly immersive descent into Deadite-infested chaos.
Despite these shortcomings, “Evil Dead Rise” isn’t without its merits. The practical effects are gruesomely delightful, showcasing inventive dismemberment and body horror that would make Sam Raimi proud. The film’s climax is a frenzied explosion of violence and dark humor, a worthy send-off for Beth’s harrowing ordeal. However, the lingering feeling remains that “Evil Dead Rise” could have been a truly groundbreaking entry in the franchise, a claustrophobic descent into urban nightmare fueled by fresh scares and pitch-black humor. Instead, it feels like a competent, but somewhat familiar, chapter in the ongoing Deadite saga.
Is “Evil Dead Rise” a complete failure? No. It’s a well-made horror film with some genuinely terrifying moments and a strong central performance. But it can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity, a chance to truly redefine the Evil Dead experience for a new generation. As the credits roll, we’re left wondering what horrors could have lurked within the crumbling walls of that Los Angeles apartment building, had the film dared to push the boundaries of Deadite mayhem and embrace the suffocating darkness a bit more fully.