Evil Dead Rise (2023): The Evil Dead franchise has always had consistently solid entries. Apart from Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, Fede Alvarez crafted a brutal, unforgiving 2013 reboot that reminded us of the unbridled potential of the franchise, and the Ash vs. The Evil Dead series continued the legacy of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) while leaning heavily into splatstick absurdity.

Lee Cronin’s latest entry, Evil Dead Rise, emerges as a combination of the best aspects of what makes an Evil Dead film compelling — Cronin balances pathos with dark humor, alternating between the grim and darkly comedic to expertly weave a horrifying tale of possession. While the Deadites follow emotional mechanics that are similar to previous Evil Dead films, Cronin heightens the stakes in Evil Dead Rise by rooting a family in the heart of terror.

There is nothing precious about the ending per se: we know what happens and which characters suffer terrible fates while others are provided much-earned hope. Evil Dead Rise is about how we’ve arrived at the gates of hell, cheesegrater and jagged pieces of glass in hand, ready to puncture the eye of a child or scrape the skin off a sister. There’s layered pathos in the events that transpire, as the affected victims are a family unit that ends up paying an unfair price for the callous actions of a young teenager.

Evil Dead Rise (2023) Plot Summary & Film Synopsis:

Do Not Touch The Book Of The Dead: The Story So Far

evil dead rise
Still from Evil Dead Rise (2023)

Beth (Lily Sullivan) is a musician who is always on the road, busy with her sets and living a somewhat bohemian lifestyle. After learning that she is pregnant, Beth visits her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three kids, and the two address their pent-up grievances with one another. The nature of Beth’s job has rendered her somewhat of an absentee sister, which makes Ellie feel abandoned, especially after the recent separation from her husband. The two share a genuine, vulnerable moment, and just when things seem to be looking up, all hell breaks loose.

The L.A. highrise Ellie lives in already has a menacing quality to it — its rundown common corridors, and shadowy garage evokes an uneasy feeling even before evil finds a way to, well, rise. As Beth and Ellie converse inside the apartment, the three kids, Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies), and Kassie (Nell Fisher), go out to get pizza, and while they’re on their way home, an earthquake hits.

As if the aftershock of the event wasn’t enough, Danny decides to play detective and venture deep inside a crack formed on the garage floor, which leads to a church vault. Careless curiosity has always been a liability in The Evil Dead films. In Danny’s case, his complete disregard for everything unleashes a terrible monstrosity trapped inside the vault for decades.

Inside the vault, Danny finds a copy of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, or the Book of the Dead, and decides to bring it along with him for some reason. There is no reason for anyone to mistake the Necronomicon for a gimmicky or harmless tome. This particular book has teeth, just like the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, only more menacing. Danny completely disregards this and brings it, along with a couple of vinyl tapes, back to his home, unaware that this has opened a portal to another dimension.

The Deadites Will Mock You Till You Break And Give In

Deadite lore in The Evil Dead is not the most consistent, and there are several aspects that are unclear or arbitrary when it comes to possession. Deadites have possessed Ash (Bruce Campbell) many a time, and he has always managed to return back to his human self after much internal struggle. Still, the same cannot be said about those around him, who always end up turning and losing their humanity in the process. The inception of any Deadite attack has been a recording, which usually includes a brief, vague warning about the Necronomicon, preceded by passages being read from the book, which awakens the undead.

In Evil Dead Rise, we’re treated to a similar setup, where Danny, who is a DJ, uses his setup to play the vinyl tapes he found, and it contains an elaborate, no-nonsense warning about the dangers of reading from the book. Moreover, Danny manages to open the book by accident after it uses his blood as payment and reads the pages, which explicitly outline the outcomes that are probable once the passages are read aloud. Every survival instinct is ignored, and Danny plays the tape, setting the stage for Ellie to be the first puppet for the Deadites.

Possessions in the franchise have always been violent, often needlessly so, such as the unnecessary, gratuitous tree assault scene in Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead, along with the more slapstick aspects of Evil Dead II, where evil spreads across Ash’s arm, which lends to uncomfortable dark humor.

Evil Dead Rise Ending Explained: Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie
Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie in Evil Dead Rise

Ellie’s possession is also brutal, but not in a way that is extreme for the sake of it — the very act of an entity taking over someone and erasing their humanity to the point they are unrecognizable is enough of an assault on someone’s autonomy. Cronin conveys these themes with visceral clarity, with twisted limbs, the desperate clawing for survival, and a definitive snap of the neck to indicate a change in bodily ownership.

Just like the Deadites mock Ash throughout the three Evil Dead films, Deadite Ellie proceeds to terrorize her family in a horrifying fashion while giving into sick humor. There’s a twisted glee in mimicking the mantle of motherhood when the intention is to essentially kill all the kids. In fact, Deadite Ellie wastes no time making a mockery of the bonds that tie them together. “Mommy is with the maggots now,” she coos before climbing around the ceiling and aggressively attacking her kids, who are petrified and conflicted due to the situation.

Familial Ties Are Tested, And Fears Need To Be Overcome

In previous Evil Dead installments, there have been sprinklings of the family: Ash arrives at the cabin with his sister, Cheryl, while Alvarez’s reboot situates Mia and her brother as a part of a larger group. In Evil Dead Rise, the stakes are higher than ever — these are people who are one another’s flesh and blood, and the sacred bonds of family are defiled in audacious ways.

No one is safe or off-limits in Cronin’s film, and the children, no matter how guilty or innocent, are at equal risk of being turned, just like the adults. Beth, who obviously holds love in her heart for her sister, understandably tries to help Ellie even after she exhibits uncanny behavior. However, at some point, something snaps within, and Beth has to hack, stab, and gut her way to safety while ensuring the survival of Ellie’s children.

Beth’s disinclination to become a mother manifests in a dilemma that haunts her in real-time. On the one hand, Beth has no choice but to push through her fears of motherhood and step up as a protector for the kids, but on the other, she is painfully aware of her perceived inadequacies as a parent. The Deadites use this deep-seated insecurity to wreck Beth emotionally, such as when Deadite Ellie tells her that she will never be a good mother. Beth proves her wrong, of course.

Although Danny and Bridget turn and amalgamate with Ellie to form a horrible boss monster, Beth shields Kassie until the very end and proves herself to be a strong, reliable guardian figure who has the dedication and empathy required to raise a child. Hopefully, Beth will be able to overcome her guilt and misgivings about her unborn child, and even if she chooses not to conceive, Kassie will be proof of the fact that Beth does not have to prove to anyone that she’s a good parent, as she simply is. Seeing one’s aunt gutting an abominable monster with a chainsaw by slowly feeding it into a wood chipper would definitely count as the ultimate act of protection for a child traumatized by the horrors of losing her family in one night.

Evil Dead Rise Ending Explained

In The End, The Deadites Rise, Yet Again

The Deadites in The Evil Dead are inexplicable entities. They can haunt and possess more than one person at the same time, can control their host enough to feign innocence to trick their next target, and are capable of violent, unsettling acts to simply evoke fear. While Beth and Kassie are the only ones left alive in the end, the entity still lingers, quiet, in wait for the next host to casually walk in.

The next morning, a woman in the same building, Jessica, finds herself to be the next host, which leads to the events that open Evil Dead Rise — a woman possessed kills her friends in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. The cycle continues, and there is no respite.

It is possible to survive the terrors of this world, but this comes at a great cost. Ash, Mia, and Beth are all survivors of something unimaginably grotesque, but the weight of this evil is bound to weigh on them forever. All three of them have had to kill their loved ones to ensure survival and contain evil, and they will have to carry the weight of this knowledge forever.

The fact that the Deadites still live on ushers in a new era of possession, gutted organs, and bloodbaths, where no one is safe, and one does not have to strictly read from the book to be in danger. Evil is out in the open, free to migrate and possess, leaving the chances of saving the world extremely slim.

Cronin understands the essence of the franchise and injects his own eccentricities into it, making it a formidable, hybridized monster of a film that underlines the putrification of bonds and the violence that accompanies it. This is a much more brutal, unforgiving setting that is bound to unleash the floodgates of terror, just like the blood gushing out of the elevator, unable to contain the doom within its confines.

Also, Read All Evil Dead Movies (Including Evil Dead Rise), Ranked from Worst to Best

Watch Evil Dead Rise Trailer:

Evil Dead Rise (2023) Links: IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes
Cast: Mirabai Pease, Richard Crouchley, Anna-Maree Thomas
Where to watch Evil Dead Rise

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