Just as Scream 6 escapes Woodsboro to see Ghostface hit Manhattan, Evil Dead Rise elects to up sticks from its customary woodland cabin (well, a fun prologue aside) and head for Los Angeles. But whereas S6s action takes in New York’s sights, this reboot has no interest in LA’s lights, instead keeping things contained and claustrophobic in a condemned apartment block as events furiously unfurl over one long night.
Primarily set in an apartment inhabited by tattoo artist Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her kids Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies) and Kassie (Nell Fisher), the mayhem begins with the arrival of Ellie’s sister Beth (Lily Sullivan), a guitar technician (or ‘groupie’, as Ellie has it) with a history of messing up.
Beth’s back for a reason, but her troubles are rendered trivial when an earthquake opens a vault beneath the block, and the investigating Danny emerges clutching the Book of the Dead. No sooner can you say ‘Kandar!’ than rotting, rage-filled Deadites are toying with this well-drawn, likeable family.
By ‘toying’ we mean, of course, possessing and then spectacularly dismembering, with gallons of gore unleashed through creative use of guns, knives, scissors, broken glass, a screwdriver, a cheese grater (!) and, naturally, a chainsaw. The principle of Chekov’s, um, mop is employed to particularly bloody effect. And if there’s one thing that Deadites like more than blood, it’s vomit, as evidenced by the bile, worms and eyeballs that are variously choked up. Hell, at one point viewers get the full bingo card as a character spews blood, and lots of it.
Truth be told, the building’s desaturated colour scheme and sepulchral interior design benefit from a splash of red – or a tidal wave of it, as when writer/director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) gives us an elevator scene inspired by Kubrick’s The Shining.
OK, this Evil Dead entry can’t Rise to Raimi’s first two movies for kamikaze camera moves, while the moments of humour, though decent, fall short of Bruce Campbell’s splatstick antics. What’s more, the Deadites now seem to be mimicking Japanese ghost girls – all tics and twitches, clacks and cracks. But this easily surpasses Fede Alvarez’s overrated 2013 reboot and suggests there’s plenty more life – and death – in the franchise yet. Groovy.