Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise is a fine addition to the Evil Dead canon, but I must admit to being a touch disappointed it didn’t use its setting in a different way.
Much of Evil Dead Rise’s runtime takes place in a dilapidated, near-empty apartment complex, with a Deadite outbreak being unleashed after an unholy vinyl gets played by a curious youth. To be fair to the lad, he probably didn’t factor in the demonic destruction of his family would come from listening to an LP, despite what so many 70s-era conservatives might have told us.
It’s genuinely refreshing to take the big-screen Evil Dead adventures to a different location given that 60% of them have taken place in a cabin in the woods. The concept of Deadites in an apartment complex is enticing, and for me, it instantly brought to mind Lamberto Bava’s Demons 2.
In Demons 2, the demonic infestation of the first film returns through a television set (the first movie summoning them from a movie theater screen), and absolute carnage ensues as tenants of a 10-story high-rise apartment building have to contend with the toothy, sharp-clawed monsters that inhabit anyone they draw blood from.
The setup allows for multiple perspectives and set pieces for various tenants and ultimately begins to draw them together as the number of survivors dwindles. It’s Demons by way of David Cronenberg’s Shivers. Its plot is inarguably a bit of nonsense, but it delivers on the promise of Demons going nuts in an apartment building.
So, with that in mind, Evil Dead Rise felt like a bit of a letdown. In fairness, it’s not on Lee Cronin that I had that expectation, and the film sets up plenty of good reasons for the building being underpopulated, but the pre-release chatter didn’t exactly set the levels for the just how many Deadites gone wild in a high-rise we’d be getting.
Naturally, that left me with a feeling of what could have been. I’m not saying you need hundreds of people and Deadites to justify using an apartment building as a setup, but I do feel it’s missing the point of using such a location to house an Evil Dead story.
Technically, Evil Dead in the city, even restricted to one apartment building, should be upping the ante in the Deadite department. We know what small-scale Deadite action is, and Army of Darkness went for a whole other scale. Something in the middle would have made Evil Dead Rise truly refreshing.