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Evil Dead Rise Is the Scariest Movie of the Year So Far – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Evil Dead Rise Is the Scariest Movie of the Year So Far



The Evil Dead franchise has been in existence since the early 1980s, garnering a devoted following over the years. The stories have mostly stayed true to the original plotline, which typically involves a group of friends trapped in a remote cabin in the woods. The infamous Necronomicon, also known as the Book of the Dead, has always played a central role, unleashing demonic spirits called Deadites that possess and gruesomely kill anyone they come across.

When the trailers for the latest installment, Evil Dead Rise, first started appearing, they promised fans an updated version of what they loved about the series. Now that the film has been released, it has certainly lived up to expectations. It delivers a plethora of intense scares, gory scenes, and outstanding performances, making it a huge success at the box office. This dark and truly disturbing film, with its near-flawless execution and refusal to hold back on shock value, has been hailed as the scariest movie of the year so far. And we wholeheartedly agree.

The Anticipation

With so many subpar horror films out there, horror enthusiasts have learned to temper their expectations. However, the build-up to Evil Dead Rise began with its Green Band trailers and teasers, which immediately hinted at a dark and terrifying tone. The full trailer, released in January 2023, only heightened the excitement. It was a masterful display of editing and trailer music that added to the creepiness and effectively piqued the audience’s interest. Not all marketing campaigns succeed, but this one was truly genius. The film’s eventual success can be attributed, in part, to these trailers, which skillfully generated anticipation and left audiences on the edge of their seats.

Expectations vs. Reality

The opening sequence served as the final teaser, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the film. The trouble begins when a woman starts reciting lines from her cousin’s book while seemingly still asleep. The combination of her double-register voice and escalating volume creates an unsettling atmosphere. Jessica’s transformation into a Deadite and her subsequent rampage, culminating in her rising from a lake with the film’s title hovering in the air, was a stroke of brilliance. It signaled that audiences were in for an uncomfortably thrilling experience that exceeded their expectations.

The Scares and Execution

While the opening scene’s cabin in the woods pays homage to the franchise’s roots, Evil Dead Rise sets itself apart by predominantly taking place in a dilapidated apartment building in Los Angeles. The story revolves around a mother, her sister, and her three young children. The eerie atmosphere builds up to an earthquake, or perhaps something more sinister, that causes a crack in the ground, leading to the discovery of the Book of the Dead in the family’s home. Later, the family’s only son, Daniel, plays an old vinyl record featuring a demonic voice reciting an incantation that releases a Deadite. From this point on, the film becomes a relentless rollercoaster of heart-stopping sequences.

The demon traps Ellie in an elevator and subjects her to horrifying torture, bending and contorting her body with metal cables. The evil entity spares no one in its path, regardless of age or vulnerability, as it attempts to kill or possess them. The execution of Ellie’s and her older children’s possessions is delightfully horrendous, emphasizing the film’s R rating. The special effects, gore, and horror scenes are expertly crafted, building tension and shocking audiences with the unyielding violence.

The Gore

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By the film’s conclusion, it becomes evident that the franchise’s reputation for gore still holds true. From an elevator drenched in blood to gruesome moments like a man having his eyeball bitten out, there is no shortage of gore. However, some may argue that the excessive bloodshed at the end was unnecessary. The terrifying horror, demonic presence, and eerie scares alone were enough to drive the film’s intensity, and the excessive gore only served as a nod to the franchise’s penchant for shock value. Most horror purists (excluding those who solely enjoy gory horror) would likely agree that the possession and demonic scenes were far more captivating. The blood-soaked finale felt cheesy and forced in comparison, although the sight of young Kassie covered in blood was undeniably unsettling, especially for parents.

Aside from the excessive blood, the desired effect could have been achieved with fewer graphic scenes. Two particular moments, in which a character has a grater dragged across her bare leg and later bites and swallows shards from a wine glass, were more effective in evoking horror with minimal bloodshed.

That Performance

Undoubtedly, Alyssa Sutherland’s performance was the highlight of the film. Whether she was lurking in the hallways, plotting nefarious ways to harm her own children, or sending chills down everyone’s spines with her unsettling movements and close-up shots of her disfigured face and body, her portrayal has solidified her status as a horror icon. The chilling sound editing, featuring her speaking in a double-register voice, perfectly complemented Sutherland’s nuanced facial expressions and immersive delivery. Scenes like her crawling on the ceiling like a profane creature were hauntingly memorable. Her unsettling interactions with her youngest child, using the child as a tool to regain control, were enhanced by impeccable cinematography that maximized the fear in each scene. It is worth noting that Sutherland, primarily a model and part-time actress with minimal film experience, delivered an astonishingly brilliant performance and has quickly become a fan-favorite scream queen. It is a shame that horror films are often overlooked by prestigious award ceremonies like the Academy Awards, as performances like Sutherland’s require immense skill and depth.

While only time will tell if Evil Dead Rise retains its status as the scariest film of the year, with Insidious: The Red Door set for release in a few days, one thing is certain: this movie is a must-see for horror aficionados.

The Evil Dead franchise has been around since the early ’80s, amassing a huge cult following ever since. Over the years, the plots have largely remained true to the original storylines, usually a group of friends trapped in an isolated cabin in the woods. The now infamous Necronomicon, or Book the Dead, has featured in each as the catalyst that unleashes demonic spirits known as Deadites which possess and mercilessly kill anyone they encounter.




When trailers for the latest installment, Evil Dead Risefirst began showing, they promised more of the same in an updated version of what fans loved best. Now that the film has been released, it certainly hasn’t disappointed. Delivering on a ton of intense scares, insane gore, and some devastating performances, the film has been a smash hit at the box office. A dark and truly disturbing film, its near-perfect execution and refusal to shy away from shock value has many hailing Evil Dead Rise as the scariest movie of the year so far. Here’s why we agree.



The Build-Up

Alyssa Sutherland in Evil Dead Rise
Warner Bros. Pictures

With so many bad horror films out there, horror lovers have learned to be a little circumspect with their expectations, even when a film promises great things. The build-up to Evil Dead Rise began with its Green Band trailers and teasers a while back. First impressions immediately hinted at a very dark tone and some terrifying shots of a new Deadite to fear. By the time the full trailer was released in January 2023, this only heightened excitement.

Related: The 10 Best Horror Movie Trailers Of All Time, Ranked

The official red band trailer was perfect, providing some devilishly enticing snippets into the film’s overall tone, fear factor, and gore, with some amazing editing and trailer music adding to all the creepiness. Not all marketing campaigns are successful or well-executed, but this one was genius. The eventual success of the film actually started from the trailers which used a congruent mix of chills and a microcosm of the actual movie in a way that placed the world on tenterhooks.

Expectation vs Reality

Opening scene from Evil dead rise zoomed
Warner Bros. Pictures

The opening sequence felt like the final primer that let audiences immerse themselves in the fact that the film was finally here. The first sign of trouble begins when a woman suddenly starts quoting lines from her cousin’s book while she appears to still be asleep, the nail-biting double register in her voice coupled with a palpable rise in volume already creeping under the audience’s skin.

Jessica’s reveal as a Deadite and the merciless spree she goes on culminating in her possessed body rising out of the lake with the film’s title hovering in the air with her was a stroke of brilliance. It let audiences know that they should buckle up because this was going to be one gloriously uncomfortable thrill ride that exceeded expectations.

The Scares and Execution

Sutherland in Evil Dead Rise
Warner Bros. Pictures

While the cabin in the woods from the opening scene was a great throwback, Evil Dead Rise goes on to set itself apart from previous films as the rest of it takes place in a crumbling L.A. apartment block and revolves around a mother, her sister, and her three young kids. The creepy atmosphere builds up to an earthquake, or perhaps something else, that causes a crack in the ground to set in motion the events that lead to a book of the dead finding its way into the family’s home.

Later, Daniel, the family’s only son plays an old vinyl that features a demonic voice that builds in intensity as it speaks the incantation that releases a Deadite. The film is immediately thrust into one heart-stopping sequence after another. From this point, it proves ruthless when the demon binds Ellie in an elevator and subjects her to some horrifying torture as it uses metal cables to bend and twist her body into unnatural shapes as it consumes her.

Related: Horror Movies That Will Make Seasoned Fans Sick to Their Stomachs

With her now possessed, the evil wreaks havoc on the family, showing no quarter as it relentlessly tries to kill or possess anyone in its path — no matter how young or defenseless. The execution of Ellie’s and her older children’s possessions is horrendous in a delightful way that underscores the film’s R rating. The special effects, gore, and horror scenes are perfectly rendered with some brilliant directing that either serves to build tension or leave audiences shocked by the implacable nature of the violence it unleashes.

The Gore

Evil Dead Rise gore scene
Warner Bros. Pictures

By the film’s end, we see that the franchise’s reputation for gore delivered too. Whether it was an elevator drowned in blood or some grisly moments like a man’s eyeball being bitten right out of his skull, there was gore aplenty. While this may be an unpopular opinion, the excessive gore at the end was probably unnecessary. The terrifying horror, demons, and creepy scares alone drove this one, while the gore served to only hark back at the added shock value the franchise has become known for.

Most horror purists (unless you’re a fan of gory horrors only) will probably agree that the possession and demonic scenes were far more entertaining. The unfettered bloodbath at the end felt cheesy and forced in comparison, although the sight of little Kassie being covered from head-to-toe in blood was certainly an unsettling sight, especially if you’re a parent.

Related: The Best Acting Performances in Horror Movies, Ranked

Aside from the excessive blood at the end being a little gimmicky, the effect it tries to achieve was far better achieved when restraint was shown. Arguably, there were two scenes that better demonstrated this desired effect with only a fraction of the closing scene’s blood needed to make it more horrifying. Those scenes were of course the one where a character has a grater run across her bare leg, and the same character later biting off, chewing, and swallowing pointy shards from a wine glass.

That Performance

Alyssa Sutherland in Evil Dead Rise
Warner Bros. Pictures

The undeniable highlight of the film was Alyssa Sutherland’s performance. Whether she was stalking the hallways, scheming devious ways to murder her own children, or just creeping everyone out with her petrifying body movements and closeup shots of her mangled face and body, the performance has become one of horror royalty. The brilliant sound editing as she speaks with the same double register was chilling and perfect, matched only by the poise and prowess of Sutherland’s facial expressions and exceptionally immersive delivery.

Scenes like the one where she leaps onto the ceiling, clinging from it like the profane creature she’s become were resplendent throughout. Ellie peeking out from the bathtub to announce that, “Mommy’s with the maggots now,” or her disquieting conversations with her youngest child as she uses her to get back inside, were all backed up by some amazing cinematography that maximized the scariness of each scene.

Considering that Sutherland is a model and only a part-time actress with only six film appearances in the last 17 years, she was astoundingly good in the role and has become an instant fan-favorite scream queen. To horror fanatics’ constant irritation, the Academy Awards continues to snub horror films no matter how good they are. Yet, performances like Sutherland’s require a lot more nuance and acting depth than such roles are ever given due credit for. After all, she’s the scariest part of the entire film.

Whether it stays the scariest film of the year remains to be seen, since Insidious: The Red Door is due for its own release in a few days. Time will tell, but either way, Evil Dead Rise was an unmissable movie if you’re a fan of horror.

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