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Evil Dead Rise: A Love Letter

Dr. S and I rolled into a movie theatre at 10pm on a Monday night to be sure we saw Evil Dead Rise in theatres. I was apprehensive, and had prepared myself for a very different film from the original, campy, beloved cult classics. I knew it wouldn't be the same.

I wasn't expecting a love letter, but that's exactly what Cornin's film is. It's wonderful.

The purpose of the film isn't a remake, but a continuation that gestures to the stories that have come before. Rise is an urban gothic, placing the isolated domestic space in an apartment, both traditionally limiting the setting and options (an earthquake takes out the states and the elevator is faulty), and updating the potential. Other residents expand the pool of victims and threats, natural elements limit modern communication and support, and what's left is a reminder of the very real possibility of systematic failures that lead to tragedy.

Fan service is paid, but in ways that make sense. Rather than being gratuitous, allusions to previous installments and other horror franchises work within the narrative of Rise: the blood-filled elevator and bathtub horror harken back to The Shining, and Bridget's immolation mirrors Freddy's in Elm Street. Beth's dress resembles Ash's blue shirt, her hand is damaged (albeit remains in tact), and she uses a shotgun and chainsaw taken off a neighbor who is an arborist. Shots and angles recall the howling movement of evil from the original trilogy, and in the final act Beth's blood-soaked face and shining white eyes pays homage to the affective performativity of Ash.

And there's still camp! This is what I most feared - that the new film would play too straight, and leave the joyful campiness behind. But it doesn't! It finds room for it all, in excellent choreography.

The entire cast is truly fantastic, but as the lead dead it's Alyssa Sutherland really steals the show. Good god, Ellie is magnetic and unsettling all at once, and every moment of Sutherland's performance is poetry. Cronin is either a very careful study or an avid fan, and we all benefit from his exceptional work.

I can't wait to see it again.

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