starring Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Gabrielle Echols, Morgan Davies
written and directed by Lee Cronin
by Walter Chaw Lee Cronin's Evil Dead Rise is mean. It's that scene from The Exorcist (1973) where little Regan McNeil masturbates with a crucifix and then shoves her mom's face into her crotch mean. Vicious. But it's not Ari Aster mean, where you infer it hates its characters and/or its genre. Rather, it's mean in the sense that demons are mean, and it makes people we like do terrible things to other people we like. Evil Dead Rise is the line separating a horror film from a horrible film. It's closer in tenor to its immediate predecessor, Fede Alvarez's similarly vicious--brutal, really--Evil Dead (2013), than to Sam Raimi's original trilogy, though more to the point, it's exactly as mean as the first two entries in that trilogy but without Raimi's sillier visual affectations and Bruce Campbell's beloved caricature of a hambone persona. Indeed, most of the "fun" of those Campbell/Raimi pictures is the amount of humiliation and abuse heaped upon Campbell, with Campbell's physical resemblance to a cartoon character becoming the central gag of the third film, Army of Darkness, as his features are stretched and multiplied, shrunken and deformed to fit whatever comic-strip setup is required of him in that moment.