Director-writer Lee Cronin’s “Evil Dead Rise” holds an interesting position in Sam Raimi’s franchise: it’s the second release that lacks anything more than a brief cameo from Bruce Campbell. Overall, the film’s gore is explicit enough to make viewers wince, but restrained compared to Fede Alvarez’s guts-to-the-wall remake or the sight of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) eye-gouging a demon-possessed friend. Still, it’s no shrinking lily — you’ll see kids gulp broken glass and people lit ablaze. However, that’s not where the film’s scares come from exactly. What frightens the viewer? The film heavily relies on its sound design to add extra oomph to all the kills you don’t see.
Audio effects are a vital secondary character in the “Evil Dead” franchise at large — think of the buzzing flies sound that accompanies all of Ash’s adventures. “Evil Dead Rise” takes this to new heights by combining offscreen skitters, crunching sounds, and loud electronic fuzzing. Kudos to sound designer Peter Albrechtsen, who ratchets up the tension with every scene.
Thematically, there’s something fresh, and even feminist, about this take. “Evil Dead Rise” perverts the notion of sisterhood and motherhood with its Deadite mom (Alyssa Sutherland), twisting the stomach and stabbing the heart while showcasing a Ripley-and-Newt-like bond between the movie’s aunt and niece. Is it scary? Absolutely. But what makes this a refreshing must-see horror flick is how it subverts the idea of a selfless mother.