Hitting the Blood Red Carpet at SXSW for ‘Evil Dead Rise’

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Annie Lyons speaks with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Lee Cronin and Lily Sullivan at the premiere for Evil Dead Rise and we get a first look at Letterboxd members’ reactions.

“I knew it was a film that needed to have a lot of liquid in it, a lot of carnage, a lot of expulsion,” director Lee Cronin told Letterboxd’s Annie Lyons on the red carpet moments before the premiere of Evil Dead Rise, his new entry into the landmark horror franchise. If reviews from members are anything to be believed (and we’d like to imagine they are), he’s certainly delivered on that promise. According to AmandaTheJedi, “If you’re stoked for a bloodbath, this should satisfy your needs.” Sign us up! 

“No one prepares you for the blood,” said star Lily Sullivan on the carpet. “No one prepares you for the trauma off set. Shooting becomes like dancing, and it’s really fun and physical, but sitting off set and being covered in blood that sticks to your skin, to your clothes and to towels and anything you pass—it was a form of trauma, but also weirdly enough as an actor when you get stuck in period [films] and drama but then you get to do a horror, I’m just grateful for the dance and grateful for the full body expression that I don’t feel lots of women get to do.” 

If the star was looking for some guidance from the series’ original lead Bruce Campbell, now an executive producer, she was out of luck. “There’s no advice you could give ’em,” Campbell told us. “Nothing would matter. Not in the thick of it. There’s nothing I could say that would make it easier for them to be covered in blood. You’re gonna have to figure this shit out yourself.” 

Sullivan plays Lily in the film, who along with her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), finds an ancient book that gives birth to bloodthirsty demons who run amok in a Los Angeles apartment building. The focus on family was a key focal point for executive producer Sam Raimi when we asked him about handing over the directorial keys to Cronin: “His film The Hole in the Ground was so elegantly crafted, and I could see what a great writer he was. And when he came up with this idea for Evil Dead Rise to be centered on the family, I knew that his strengths as a writer would make that work really well.” The approach certainly worked for Merchant77, who says “It’s really about family, and that’s what makes it so powerful.”

Family holds some connective tissue with Cronin for the franchise, as he told us about how Evil Dead has been with him since a young age. “I grew up in a house where we watched a lot of horror movies, and my dad showed me Evil Dead and Evil Dead II back to back on VHS. I was eight or nine, so I didn’t know what I was watching, but I knew that I was watching something really special. Then in my teenage years, I was able to go back and watch those movies again with an understanding of their place in the culture of horror movies. How they’re like a cornerstone of American horror. They made a massive impression on me at a young age.” 

Sound designer Peter Albrechsten gave us some intel on how previous entries literally made their way into Evil Dead Rise. “I’m a big fan of the old Evil Dead films, so for me a big thing on this one was we actually had access to the sounds of the old films,” he said. “We took some of the sounds from the earlier entries and put it into this one, and for me that’s just the best way of bringing the old Evil Dead legacy to a new audience, and to old fans as well.” 

The reverence for the franchise shines through, as Andrew Pope writes, “I hereby declare this movie… groovy. It’s the big crowd-pleasing Evil Dead movie we were hoping for. Remixing the dark humor of The Evil Dead, the polish of Evil Dead II, and the savagery of the 2013 reboot, all blended together and perfectly paced in a 1930s tower block. It moves from darkly funny to utterly savage. The premiere audience went ballistic.” 

Not ones to rest on the laurels of old iconography, it looks like Cronin and company have created plenty of their own moments that are going to stick with viewers for a long time. “I’ll never look at a cheese grater the same again,” says Tyler Cole Kelly, a warning to keep the kitchen drawers closed when you get home from the theater. Zach Shevich shouts out another area of the home you might want to avoid, describing the film as being “like getting on the biggest coaster in the park and realizing it’s maybe more intense than you’d expect. Unrelenting horror madness with a couple particularly thrilling sequences (peephole one stood out to me).”

We’ll leave you with a promise from Sam Raimi, who lets you know what you’re in store for when Evil Dead Rise hits theaters April 21 from Warner Bros: “There’s lots of blood!”

—Reporting by Annie Lyons (in Austin), additional reporting by Mitchell Beaupre (at Letterboxd HQ)