When I first heard that a prequel to the original Evil Dead was being made, I was slightly skeptical.
The original was good on its own. I didn’t understand how a second film could add to the story.
But soon after seeing the new Evil Dead prequel, Evil Dead Rise, I realized this new entry provided something classic and enjoyable to the horror genre.
In a depleted Los Angeles apartment building, we meet sisters Beth and Ellie, as well as Ellie’s three kids. In the aftermath of an earthquake, Ellie’s son, Danny, discovers an ancient book in their basement. After reading aloud from it, he accidentally summons an ancient demon that possesses Ellie.
Evil Dead Rises opens with a girl becoming possessed by a demon and killing her unsuspecting boyfriend and cousin. These two deaths in the opening scene set the tone of the film, showing the audience that no character is safe and setting high stakes for the rest of the story.
Those real stakes made this film stand out. It can be rare for a horror movie to put its main characters into threatening situations and force them to not make it out safely. This redundant horror trope often ruins suspense for me. But Evil Dead Rise starts with five main characters and ends with only two of them surviving – Ellie and Kassie, her youngest child.
These unexpected deaths kept me engaged and left me worrying whether certain characters would actually survive.
The characters in this movie did play into typical horror tropes. There were many times when it seemed the protagonists found themselves in dangerous situations for absolutely no reason.
But the movie’s creators were clearly self-aware, adding an unexpected layer of humor to the otherwise gruesome story. There were many occasions when character flaws were intentionally pointed out or made fun of, which allowed for some lightheartedness in the midst of the most tense scenes.
This film also really benefited from its location. Almost the whole film takes place within one apartment. This tight, enclosed setting added a claustrophobic element to the film. There were many times when characters would seemingly be trapped, and I couldn’t fathom how they could possibly escape.
The main antagonist being a mother who leaves the conflict up to her children and their aunt is different from the typical horror plot. Because of the family elements at play in the conflict, the children don’t always think things through.
As the movie starts to wrap up, Ellie and Kassie are outnumbered by their possessed family members. They escape, but it’s far from easy. Even as they walk away, it’s clear they couldn’t buy the time to actually kill their possessed counterparts.
Evil Dead Rise ends with its beginning – with the film’s evil force returning to take over the woman from the opening scene, who doesn’t play a major role in the rest of the film.
Overall, I thought this film was a simple, fun horror story. Although the plot wasn’t incredibly unique compared to other Evil Dead films, it had elements that made it stand out.
It’s clear the filmmakers had fun with this movie, from the humor to creative plot devices. It was a refreshing break from the more elevated, comedic horror that has dominated the genre for the past few years.