Evil Dead Rise SXSW Film festival 2023

“Evil Dead Rise” Premieres at SXSW to Mixed Reactions

Evil Dead Rise held its premiere at the SXSW 2023 Film Festival. The first film of the trilogy, The Evil Dead, as well as its 2013 remake, were so horrifically gory that they were actually banned in various countries including Finland, Ukraine, and Singapore. That should have been my first clue that I would hate this movie.

Eight months, one Covid lockdown, and 6,500 liters of fake blood went into making the latest in the Sam Raimi “Evil Dead” series, this one entitled “Evil Dead Rise” and shot in New Zealand. Its Irish director, Lee Cronin, earned a Saturn award nomination for Breakthrough Director at Sundance, after all.

I was game to sit through “Evil Dead Rise”. I’m a former active voting member of HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and the author of three novels some might call “horror”. This should be right up the alley of “The Color of Evil” author.

Wrong, Snore-Snout.

If 80% of a film’s success is casting, this one started out wobbly. Evil Dead Rise features a freakishly tall and extensively tattooed leading lady, Alyssa Sutherland. The tattoos may not have been real and the Australian actress/model’s height is listed as five feet eleven inches. I will ask you to take those comments about the film with a grain of salt.

The synopsis read: “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.”

I reviewed films through the eighties when slasher films were all the rage. After about twenty in a row, I swore off the entire series of films that attempt to entertain you by thrusting a knife into someone’s throat (Kevin Bacon in one memorable cabin scene) or tried to gross you out by having projectile vomiting.

This film has taken the worst of those gross-out concepts and amplified them. If that’s your thing, as it seemed to be for the man next to me who was laughing his ass off and thoroughly enjoying this movie, then go for it. If he hadn’t been very large (and blocking the aisle to exit) I would have probably left long before the end, but, thanks to Mr. Laugh-A-Lot, I couldn’t escape.

Watching an eyeball fly across the room because of a severed head and someone else inadvertently swallowing it: gross. Buckets of blood in an elevator that bursts forth? Derivative of “The Shining” but with much less plot justification.

During the Q&A for the film, Bruce Campbell was brought onstage, the original Ash of the first films, who raised $350,000 for the very first film that Stephen King championed and ended up playing a lead in subsequent films (but not this one.) As Campbell (“Ash”) was speaking, an apparently inebriated male theater-goer in the audience shouted out, loudly, “This movie effing sucks” (profanity euphemism inserted). Campbell demanded that the man be removed from the Paramount Theater, and he was. (It made all the papers.)

You’ve been warned.




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