A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

Chuck says:


Fede Alvarez’s 2013 reboot “Evil Dead” was a major surprise to me.  Instead of a tired rehash of Sam Raimi’s cult trilogy, the filmmaker took the series in a different direction, offering up a fierce, no-holds-barred, down-and-dirty horror film that dared the audience to see it through its brisk 91-minute running time.  Done with great imagination and featuring fully developed, sympathetic characters, it was a genre entry intent on pushing boundaries with a degree of style and intelligence, a much too uncommon ocurrence in films of this sort.

What with Raimi having produced the remake, as well as the new “Evil Dead Rise,” I had high hopes for the belated follow-up.  Alas, these expectations were mislaid as writer/director Lee Cronin’s effort is a slowly paced, dim-witted effort that mistakes buckets of blood for horror. Eschewing plot and metaphor for one unimaginative set piece after another, each upping the ante where gore and bloodletting are concerned, the result is an exercise in numbing repetition.

The nefarious Book of the Dead is found in the basement of a rundown apartment building by Danny (Morgan Davies), a teenager whose mother, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), is trying to keep her family together after the boy’s father abandoned them. His sisters Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) are coping in their own ways, while the sudden appearance of their troubled Aunt Beth (Lily Sullivan) only adds to the familial tension. Unaware of the inherent evil contained in the book but thinking, due to its obvious age, it may be sold for a healthy profit that could help his mother, Danny delves into its contents.  In doing so, he unleashes an evil entity that possesses Ellie, turning her into a flesh-eating monster intent on consuming anyone who crosses her path.

It takes nearly a half-hour before this takes place, far too much time taken attempting to establish the premise and characters.  Unfortunately, they’re all from Central Casting, nothing particularly interesting about them or their plight. While confining the action to a single location – an earthquake hits which destroys the building’s stairs and makes the elevator unreliable- Cronin paints himself in a corner he can’t get out of. A sense of tedium sets in as the director fails to find fresh angles in which to present the cramped space while the repeated assaults of the ever-increasing number of monsters lacks imagination as well; a been-there-done-there feel sets in far too quickly, never to be shaken.

Whereas Alvarez is a stylist, Cronin is a hack, mistaking excess for substance. This is never more evident than during the film’s ridiculous climax, which finds the final two survivors battling a creature that, constructed of all of Ellie’s past victims, lacks bite due to the film’s sub-par special effects and the director’s insistence on spilling more and more blood to distract us from it. A significant step backwards, “Rise” suggests that perhaps the franchise should not be resurrected.

2 Stars

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