Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise ★★★★

Cronin very wisely takes a step away from the cabin-in-the-woods context of the Evil Dead series and plants his film firmly into the perils of modernity. Instead of a group of silly kids from the city barging into nature and unleashing hell, hell finds its way into the city and constricts the familial unit into a reversion of nature. The beauty of motherhood is mangled and contorted here into an unrelenting nightmare. The impending pregnancy that looms over our protagonist, Beth, is racked with two visions of potentiality through two versions of her own sister, her possible double. On one end, there is the desperate and loving single mother, a family devastated by the absence of a father, the circumstance in which people try to thrive but barely survive. (It’s no wonder the children are, in this order from oldest to youngest, an androgynous creative, an abrasive protester type, and a cute little girl who cuts the heads off baby dolls — pay close attention, though, to which of the children can use their darkness for good and ultimately survive.) On the other end is the archetype of the evil matriarch at its most vivid, a literal devouring mother brought forth to the screen with such visceral and bloody depth. The film is set within a dilapidated high-rise apartment emblematic of the way so many of man’s postmodern feats, philosophies, and politics tend to tear away at themselves. It leads, of course, to our innermost nature — the sanctity of our families — being tormented and assaulted by the most chaotic and destructive of demons. In between these dark possibilities, Beth finds her fear of parenthood, her fear of responsibility, dead amidst an affirmation of parental protection and ferocious love. So, yeah. Deeply impressed with not only the tonal handling here, not only the practicality on display and the passionate energy with which it’s brought to the screen, but also am just darn pleased to find a modern horror movie that doesn’t slap an ironic pop song over the end credits. How about that? It can be done.

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