They’re so dead. (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher

Director: Lee Cronin

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Rating: R for Creative Body Horror and Overflowing Blood

Release Date: April 21, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: You can’t keep a good Book of the Dead down. It’s been over 40 years since those Deadites first popped out and wreaked havoc in the first Evil Dead, and they’re not showing signs of retiring anytime soon. This time, they’re breaking out of their usual cabin in the woods stomping ground and going a little more domestic. After newly single mom Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) welcomes her unexpectedly visiting sister Beth (Lily Sullivan), she sends her kids Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and Kassie (Nell Fisher) out for some pizza. On their way back, an earthquake rips open a hole in their apartment building’s parking garage, revealing a certain tome with a set of very sharp teeth. The kids are a little too curious, and soon enough, Mommy isn’t feeling very much like Mommy anymore. And that feeling might be contagious.

What Made an Impression?: One of the main reasons the Evil Dead franchise has endured as long as it has is the preternaturally charismatic screen presence of its original leading man, Bruce Campbell. He steps away from the main cast for Evil Dead Rise (much as he did with the 2013 reboot), though he still manages to be involved with the best part of the movie, as he voices a priest who can be heard on a vinyl record documenting a previous group’s encounter with the Book of the Dead. That’s not meant as a knock on the new actors, who are all mostly solid. Instead, it’s meant as praise for writer-director Lee Cronin continuing the tradition of capturing an atmosphere of eternally persistent inescapable dread.

Other than that, though, Evil Dead Rise doesn’t manage to be quite as singular as the original Sam Raimi-directed entries. That would be quite a tall order, to be fair. The slapstick brand of horror that reached its apotheosis in 1987’s Evil Dead II was unlike anything else of the era, and really unlike anything else in horror history. Evil Dead Rise aims for a more straightforwardly frightening experience, with some laugh lines here and there, but not in any way that’s terribly unusual for the genre. It certainly impresses with its buckets of blood and general relentlessness, though it doesn’t shift any paradigms. You’ll be slapped around by fear, instead of fully possessed by it.

Evil Dead Rise is Recommended If You Like: Old-timey radio plays, Voice modulation, Karo syrup

Grade: 3 out of 5 Deadites