An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at the fifth entry in the Evil Dead series, 2023’s Evil Dead Rise
After finding the Naturom Demonto (The Book of the Dead) a family living in a high-rise in Los Angeles must survive an attack from demons known as deadites.
Is Evil Dead Rise (2023) Scary?
Evil Dead Rise has several tense-filled scenes, creepy monster/deadite designs, and moments that will make you too scared to look through your front door peephole. While it might not be as gory as Evil Dead (2013) if seeing blood bothers you there’s a handful of scenes that will have you looking away.
Evil Dead Rise does a good job at delivering the scares and chances are you will leave the film afraid of something, especially if you have a habit of collecting old books that drink blood.
Evil Dead Rise (2023) Full Plot Summary:
The film opens with what appears to be the POV of something flying through woods near a lake. If you’ve seen the other Evil Dead movies, you know this POV is often used for the evil beings known as deadites as they search for someone to possess.
This time it’s actually a drone piloted by some douche name Caleb (played by Richard Crouchley) who almost hits Teresa (played by Mirabai Pease) in the face.
To get away from Caleb, Teresa goes to a nearby cabin to check on her cousin Jessica (played by Anna-Maree Thomas) who is not feeling well. We don’t know what’s wrong with Jessica but seeing as this is Evil Dead, it can’t be good.
Deciding to read, Teresa sits in a nearby chair but gets freaked out when Jessica randomly starts narrating the lines Teresa is reading. Jessica’s voice gets deeper as she starts screaming out the lines. Suddenly she stops and drops to the ground.
Teresa rushes to Jessica’s side and watches as she starts vomiting and then passes out. But it was a trick! As Teresa tries to listen to Jessica’s heart, she wakes up, grabs Teresa by the neck, and rips off her freaking scalp by pulling on her braid.
At the pier, a scalp-less and bloody Teresa arrives shocking Caleb who is about to have the worst day of his life. Jessica also arrives, drops off Teresa’s scalp, and grabs the drone. As Caleb watches, Jessica slams her face into it and falls into the water. For some reason, Caleb immediately jumps in after her but realizes he’s fucked up when he’s pulled deeper into the water.
The water becomes red with his blood and his head shoots out of the water, landing on the pier next to Teresa. A fully possessed, deadite-Jessica rises above the water as the title card also rises out from the trees behind her. I guess you can say… an Evil Dead Rises!
Cut to one day earlier where we meet our main character, guitar technician Beth (played by Lily Sullivan) at a club, the kind where you’re pretty sure everything is a bit dirty but you can’t prove it. Beth takes a pregnancy test and discovers she’s pregnant and it’s not a “yay” moment.
Beth decides to pay her sister Ellie, who lives in Los Angeles, a surprise visit. Before she gets there we meet the rest of our main characters (left to right on the screenshots below: Ellie (played by Alyssa Sutherland), her son Danny (played by Morgan Davies), two daughters Bridget and Kassie (played by Gabrielle Echols and Nell Fisher respectively), and Staffanie (played by a doll’s head on a wooden stick).
First some background: Ellie is a tattoo artist; her teenage son Danny is trying to be a DJ and has turntables, speakers, and possibly several noise complaints under his belt; middle child, teenage Bridget, seems to be the responsible one; and young Kassie has a fascination with death, including carrying around her favorite doll, Staffanie.
I didn’t spell Stephanie wrong, Staffanie is literally a doll head on a long piece of wood… a staff, if you will- hence the name.
When we first meet the family, Kassie is cutting off the head of a doll to create Staffanie and hides a large pair of scissors under a couch so her mom doesn’t see her with them. Meanwhile, Bridget turns down some neighbor teens who invite her to watch a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon including the bad Nightmare on Elm Street films.
Kassie sees this and refers to them as weirdos which leads to some light roughhousing between her and Bridget. During the playing, Bridget accidentally breaks the end of Staffanie making it a clearly dangerous wooden spike; something that I’m sure won’t come back up again later.
Beth finally arrives and it’s clear she hasn’t really spoken to Ellie in some time. We learn (because it’s news to Beth) that the building is going to be knocked down in a month and the family is being forced to move out.
We also learn that Ellie’s husband, Jay, recently left her and the family, something Ellie tried to tell Beth about months ago, but she never returned the calls. Ellie sends the kids to get some pizza while the two sisters have a heart-to-heart.
As Beth is about to tell her sister about the reason for her visit, a powerful earthquake hits. Meanwhile, down in the building’s connected parking lot, the kids have returned with pizza but are forced to drop it as they take cover from the quake. They then… just give up on the pizza, WTF?
Danny notices a hole in the ground created by the quake, leading to a sealed-off bank vault (the building used to be a bank). Despite Bridget’s insistence for Danny to not touch anything, Danny knows the movie needs to happen so he heads into the hole and searches around.
Hidden in the vault he finds a box that once belonged to several priests filled with letters and several vinyl records which is convenient since Danny has a record player. Continuing to search, Danny finds a small tomb surrounded by dozens of hanging crosses.
Because that wasn’t enough of a warning, Danny finds a hole in the tomb and pulls out a book that is totally evil.
Upstairs Ellie and Beth are trying to call the kid’s phones but cell service is messed up after the quake. Ellie decides to ask one of her neighbors Gabe (played by Jayden Daniels) to let her borrow his car so she can drive around and search for her kids.
Meanwhile, another neighbor Mr. Fonda (played by Mark Mitchinson) makes uncomfortable small talk with Beth and tells her his cat likes to hide in the vents.
Before Ellie and Gabe can head out, the elevator dings and the kids arrive; crisis averted! YAY… oh right Danny took the book. In Danny’s room, he and Bridget debate whether they can sell the book to help the family with some money.
Danny attempts to open the book but gets cut by the sharp teeth holding the book closed. Several drops of blood fall onto the book and are absorbed causing the book to open on its own.
Danny flips through the book which depicts several drawings of murder, torture, and dismemberment. Bridget gets freaked out, slams the book closed, and demands Danny return it in the morning before leaving the room.
Danny continues looking through the book and pulls out the records he found in the box near it. We see there are three numbered records and if they had a title it would be ‘Exposition’. By playing the first record we learn they’re the recordings of Father Marcus Littleton, the library keeper at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Father Littleton reveals to his clergy that they have found one of the three volumes from the Naturom Demonto; The Book of the Dead… DUN DUN DUNNN! Littleton brought the book in hopes the church will grant them approval to translate it.
As various members of the clergy cry out in protest we hear what definitely sounds like Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) telling them to destroy the book. The record ends and Danny plays the second record, not noticing the pages on the book starting to move on their own.
The second record starts in 1923 with Littleton noting that the church rejected their idea and so Littleton and two others; Canon Damien Shanahan, and Father Hugo Cortez; have taken it upon themselves to translate the book in secret.
Littleton starts to recite the translated portion of the book which is a resurrection passage and that’s never a good place to start. Danny realizes that “yea maybe this is a bad idea” so he tries to stop the record player but it continues on its own. As the chanting continues, the book’s pages flip, and we move to the POV of what is definitely an evil force flying up to the building.
Meanwhile, we see Ellie head down to the basement to do some laundry and as the elevator doors open, she’s attacked by an unseen force. The elevator is lifted several floors and stops suddenly throwing Ellie to the ground. Moments later Ellie wakes up and attempts to force open the door but stops when she hears growling from behind her.
A cable lifts Ellie up by her neck, strangling her but she is able to gain leverage by lifting herself up. Several more cables appear and dig into her skin, contorting her body as she cries out in pain.
The power goes out in the building and, back in the apartment, Beth and Kassie realize that Ellie is missing. As Bridget lights candles, a very possessed Ellie returns to the apartment and stumbles into the kitchen where she starts haphazardly cooking eggs.
Beth and the kids approach her and Ellie tells them she wishes to cut open all their bodies and climb inside, Skywalker in Tauntaun style. In a moment of lucidity, Ellie turns to Beth and says “It’s in me.” She then falls to the ground as her body cracks and distorts. Ellie begins to vomit what has to be gallons of a viscous white liquid before asking Beth to protect the children.
Danny and Beth drag the now unconscious Ellie to the elevator to get some help but discover it’s broken. Deciding to use the staircase they get some more bad news when it’s revealed the earthquake caused the stairs to collapse. Turning back to Ellie, Beth realizes she’s dead so that solves that problem.
A short time later, back in the apartment, Beth tells Gabe and Mr. Fonda what happened and Gabe asks everyone to pray.
Gabe suggests he use an old fire escape located on the north side of the building to get some help. Mr. Fonda reminds him they can only reach it by going through one of the condemned units, #82, which is currently locked up. Building Safety Code? The fuck is that?
Gabe and Mr. Fonda leave and start trying to break into unit 82 but aren’t haven’t much success. Mr. Fonda suggests they use his shotgun to break through the locks and surprisingly Gabe doesn’t respond with “Why the hell do you have a shotgun?”.
I know these scenes only exist to let us know Mr. Fonda has a shotgun and other heavy-duty tools in his truck in the parking lot but I ain’t mad about it.
Back in the apartment, Beth tearfully says goodbye to her sister but is startled when Ellie sits up. Touching her, Beth realizes she’s burning up and with Danny’s help, they take her to the tub. Ellie begins to convulse and she jumps out of the water onto the ceiling where she screeches out before falling back into the water.
A fully transformed Deadite-Ellie climbs out of the tub and lunges at Beth and Danny who run out of the bathroom. Deadite-Ellie stumbles out of the bathroom with a large shard of glass in hand and attacks Beth stabbing her through the hand.
Bridget begs Ellie to stop and surprisingly Ellie stops her attack and drops the glass shard. She then grabs a tattoo gun and lunges at Bridget… so not precisely what Bridget was hoping for. Deadite-Ellie cuts Bridget’s cheek with the needle and kisses the wound with her infected tongue just as Danny knocks her away with a chair to the back.
As Ellie plays “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to pick her next target, Gabe enters the apartment and is probably confused as to why he’s now called Moe. Ellie immediately lunges onto him and the two stumble out into the hallway.
Chomping down onto his face, Ellie rips his eyeball out, and because that shit’s gross, she spits it out directly down the throat of one of the other teens who live on the floor. And kids, this is why you mind your own business and you stay in your apartment.
While that’s happening, Beth quickly locks and chains the door closed. Ellie starts banging her head on the door and then remembers she can kill other people so she walks away. Beth looks through the peephole, sees Ellie run by chasing a kid, and then sees that same kid get yeeted across the hall and smash into a wall; dying instantly.
A still-alive Gabe appears and bangs on the door for help but that doesn’t last long because Ellie runs up behind him, and rips out his neck.
As Gabe falls to the ground, Ellie’s attention turns to the hallway and she’s blasted several feet away. Mr. Fonda appears with his shotgun but that doesn’t last long as Ellie attacks and kills him.
Bridget realizes that Ellie looks like the pictures within the Book of the Dead and attacks Danny for stealing the book. Beth breaks up the fight and Danny takes her to see the book. Meanwhile, Bridget leaves Kassie alone in the living room and goes into the kitchen to check her cheek.
As black ooze pours out of Bridget’s nose and eyes, we cut to the Book of the Dead and see that it matches one of the drawings. Bridget starts vomiting up flies, black beetles, or roaches, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter because once you start vomiting up live insects, you don’t need to be an entomologist to know you’re screwed.
Deadite-Ellie starts to sing catching Kassie’s attention who walks over to the door and asks if she’s okay now. Ellie lies, says she’s no longer sick, and claims Kassie’s father is out there with her waiting for Kassie to open the door.
Kassie unlocks the door and she’s immediately grabbed by the throat. Bet she’ll never open a door again. Luckily the door is still chained so Ellie can only manage to get her arm in. Beth and Danny hear Kassie screaming, run to the door, and save her from Ellie.
Beth sends Kassie and Danny to the room while she goes to check on Bridgett in the kitchen. There she finds Bridgett perched up on the counter, eating glass, and having gone full deadite.
Bridget lunges at Beth who immediately trips and falls on the ground. Bridget grabs a cheese grater and grates Beth’s leg and honestly, that sounds worse than it was. She only does one pass and I thank the writers that it was only one pass because I can only squirm so much.
Using a technique called “a frying pan to the face” Beth knocks Bridget back. Danny shows up having heard the commotion but this only causes Bridget to direct her attention towards him and she gives chase.
Bridget chases Danny into a room where she spots Kassie holding Staffanie and lunges at her. Hey, remember when Staffanie broke earlier creating a wooden spike on one end?
Bridgett pulls the staff out of her head and collapses onto the ground, dead. There is no way Kassie won’t need therapy for the rest of her life. Danny places a blanket over Bridget’s body and ties her up- just in case. Beth enters the room and demands to listen to the final vinyl as it might contain a way to stop all of this.
After hooking up some batteries, Beth puts on some large headphones, gives Danny a knife just in case, locks herself in the room, and starts the third record. Father Littleton begins the record by essentially saying he fucked up and says the final record is a warning to all others about the Book of the Dead.
Maybe destroying the 2nd record would have been a better idea instead of making the final record a warning. Due to translating the book, Shanahan and Cortez were possessed and nothing Littleton did could stop them. Littleton believes the only way to stop the deadites is to completely destroy the body it’s possessing.
Meanwhile, Deadite-Ellie has found a way into the vents and is John McClane-ing into the apartment. Unaware that it’s Ellie, Danny and Kassie investigate the sounds coming from the vents and don’t realize Bridget is following them.
Following the vent sounds to the room, Danny spots Bridget before they enter and he stabs her in the stomach as Kassie hides under a nearby couch. Bridget flies at Danny, dragging him all the way into the kitchen, pulls the knife out of her stomach, and stabs Danny through the bicep; pinning him to the counter.
Bridget then vomits up a lot of blood onto Danny which definitely is going to infect him and stabs him in the chest. Just as she does this, Danny is able to use an aerosol can to light Bridget on fire.
Meanwhile, in the room, Ellie drops from the vents and attacks Beth, throwing her out of the room. This turns out to be perfect timing for Beth to see Danny die from his wounds so… that’s a morale booster? Ellie jumps on Beth, pins her to the ground, and smells that she is pregnant. Who needs pregnancy tests when you got deadites?
Ellie places her hand on Beth’s stomach in order to rip out the baby but Kassie slides the large pair of scissors hidden under the couch to Beth who uses it to stab Ellie in the face. Beth and Kassie leave the apartment, grab Mr. Fonda’s shotgun, and attempt to break into Unit 82 but are interrupted by Ellie.
After shooting Ellie, all of the dead neighbors awaken as deadites and start chanting “Dead by dawn”, “dead by dawn”, “dead by dawn”, “evil dies tonight!”, oh wait wrong movie. Beth and Kassie decide to take the elevator after Kassie realizes that Ellie’s keys were caught in the door, preventing it from moving.
As the elevator heads down it starts to fill with blood meanwhile deadites Danny, Ellie, and Bridget fuse into a single creature that I will call DEB. Post Watch Update: Apparently this creature already has a name; The Marauder.
Beth and Kassie attempt to escape the elevator through the escape hatch but DEB (The Marauder) appears. The elevator reaches the ground floor and Beth and Kassie are spit out of the elevator along with the blood; Shining style.
The two rush to the car, trigger the parking gate to open and attempt to drive off but the car gets caught in a hole created by the quake earlier. The Marauder appears and crawls towards the car but Kassie and Beth jump out before it reaches them.
The parking gate starts to close and Beth and Kassie make a break for it, both diving as it closes. Beth is able to make it across but Kassie is dragged back into the parking garage and you know what? Them’s the breaks kid, you win some and you lose some.
Unfortunately, Beth has a hero complex because she busts through one of the grates and re-enters the parking garage. Meanwhile, The Marauder has dragged Kassie into Mr. Fonda’s van which is for his tree-cutting business so there’s a chainsaw somewhere.
The Marauder finds the chainsaw and is about to chop off Kassie’s head but Beth interrupts the attack by shooting the Marauder. Kassie runs and hides under the truck as the Marauder sets its sights on Beth.
Turns out Mr. Fonda’s van doubles as a wood chipper which is not good news for Beth since the Marauder turns it on and grabs Beth with one of its many hands. Luckily, Kassie is able to turn off the machine before Beth gets chipped. Taking advantage of the confusion, Beth breaks free and grabs the chainsaw.
Beth yells for Kassie to turn the machine back on as she lunges at the Marauder with the chainsaw.
Beth pushes the Marauder into the wood chipper completely destroying most of it except for Ellie’s portion. Ellie tries to beg Beth for help but Beth jams the chainsaw into Ellie’s head as the rest of her body is torn apart. Ellie’s decapitated head then tells Beth she’ll fail as a mother and Beth kicks it into the wood chipper, destroying the deadites for good.
Beth turns off the machine and embraces a crying Kassie. She doesn’t even ask if she’s okay because she’s well aware Kassie just watched her family die, saw them come back to life as demons, saw the spider monster they merged into, and then watched her aunt put them in a wood chipper- so “are you okay?” is a stupid-ass question for the next 30-40 years.
As they leave the garage, Beth grabs the chainsaw and the two walk out hand-in-hand. A short time later, on the 5th floor of the building, we see Jessica (from the start of the film, remember her?) exit her apartment and make her way to the basement.
After calling Teresa to let her know she’s on the way, she notices all the blood and the film ends as she’s attacked by an unseen evil force.
Evil Dead Rise (2023) Spoiler Review:
Evil Dead Rise is one of my favorite horror movies that I’ve seen all year, maybe even since I started doing this. Every actor does a great job with their characters but I have to say Alyssa Sutherland does an amazing job after she becomes a deadite.
The creepiness factor of the entire movie goes up tenfold just by her portrayal and yet you’ll still laugh in several scenes. The scene where she acts like her husband is outside of the door so she can trick Kassie to open the door is the best example of this.
Although this is an Evil Dead movie it felt more like the focus was on character and story and it does a good job at that. The dialogue, the setting, the pacing, it all works and makes it an extremely entertaining movie. I will say that Beth’s arc felt a little flat though I can see where they were going with it.
She was supposed to learn that she actually would or could be a mother but the movie puts that character development in the backseat for most of the movie. There are a few moments where you see her grow but it’s from throwaway lines or just at the very end, essentially her character growth starts at zero, and hovers around 20 till the end where it shoots up to 100.
The movie is also a great example of stretching the “Chekhov’s Gun” idea to the very edge. If you don’t know, Chekhov’s Gun is basically the idea that everything introduced in a story has to be used by the end. It’s fun seeing all this happen but at a certain point, you start to realize that it’s getting a bit too coincidental.
Some examples: The way to raise the deadites is to play a vinyl record and luckily the person who finds it, not only has a record player but has a whole setup to ensure the encantation is blasted on speakers; Staffanie breaking into a wooden spike; Mr. Fonda talking about the vents. Mr. Fonda having a shotgun; Mr. Fonda having a wood chipper; The car keys stuck in the elevator that no one notices until the absolutely need to use the elevator; you get the point. Yet the movie is still so entertaining that none of that matters and it weirdly makes the movie more enjoyable.
Overall I highly recommend everyone watch Evil Dead Rise. Yes, there’s some blood and gore but it’s not the focus of the film, there’s an entertaining story, great acting, and some creepy scenes.