The “Evil Dead” franchise has come a long way since the humble original kicked-started the careers of both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.  It spawned four more feature films and a groovy TV series.  Two of those features can be considered remakes or reboots, which leaves only two true sequels.  1992’s “Army of Darkness” dialed up the camp and introduced us to demonic time travel, and 2023’s “Evil Dead Rise” continues the lore by also taking us out of the cabin and into a soon-to-be condemned apartment building.

After a hell of a pre-title scene, the movie jumps back to the events of the previous day.  We meet Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), a single mother who is raising her three kids in an old apartment complex that was formerly a bank during the 1920s.  They appear to be a very functional and loving family, despite occasionally annoying one another.  The oldest, Danny (Morgan Davies) plans to become a DJ and has an affinity for vinyl.  The youngest, Kassie (Nell Fisher) has a vivid imagination and is keenly observant.  Middle-child Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) is the most mature and is a climate change activist.   We also meet Ellie’s sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) a traveling rock band audio-tech who has popped in for a surprise visit.

The night of Beth’s visit, an earthquake reveals a hidden vault beneath the basement.  Within this vault Danny discovers a book and a set of records surrounded by crosses and St. Benedict medals.  As one would suspect, Danny opens the (literally) bloodthirsty book, plays the records, and unleashes a Deadite demon upon the unexpecting occupants of their building.

At first, it would seem that taking the action out of remote cabin and into a city would reduce the dread of being alone, but writer/director Lee Cronin does an excellent job at finding creative and relatively believable ways of isolating our heroes.   Not only this, but he’s recaptured the essence of what makes this franchise so much fun.  There’s has to be a perfect mix of dread, gore, and camp.  The 2013 reboot excelled at the first two items, but completely missed the mark on the third, leaving us with a movie that felt more cruel than entertaining.  The movie also capitalizes on what makes the Deadites so terrifying.  They are the scariest parts of Demons and Zombies combined into one unstoppable monster that still looks like your loved one.  To up the ante, this time it’s not just friends and siblings being threatened, we have children in peril!  The movie does drag a bit during the somewhat clunky family introduction scenes which drag on a touch to long.  But they are necessary as they define both the family dynamics and the layout of the building.   Once the demon has been summoned, the rest of this brisk 90 minute movie zips along, with creative gore, quality gross-out gags, and gallons of blood.  There are even a few fun nods to “The Shining” tossed in for good measure.

“Evil Dead Rise” delivers exactly what you’d expect.  No more, and no less.  For fans of the series, this entry is certifiably groovy.

Evil Dead Rise