You can't keep a good Deadite down! A fifth EVIL DEAD movie is here, written and directed by Irish filmmaker Lee Cronin. There's a new cast, a new story, and — perhaps most intriguing — a new setting.
It's been a long and winding road, for the EVIL DEAD movie series, and this bloody and scary new installment is a dream come true. Raves have poured in since the film's debut at the SXSW Film Festival in March, and now the wait is almost over. Here's everything we know about EVIL DEAD RISE.
When Can You See Evil Dead Rise?
EVIL DEAD RISE will open exclusively in movie theatres on April 21. (It was originally set to premiere only on streaming so this is a very good thing.
Watch the Evil Dead Rise Trailer
This is the green-band trailer, which means that it's a peek at EVIL DEAD RISE for all audiences. But the movie is definitely not for kids; as the trailer suggests this movie lives up to the series' legacy with a heaping helping of gore and gallons of blood.
A Little History
Now let’s rewind just a bit. The original low-budge EVIL DEAD was released in 1981. Starring future cult favorite Bruce Campbell and directed by future superhero cinema superstar Sam Raimi, the movie focused on a group of friends who awaken an ancient evil while staying in a remote cabin in the woods.
The original was a midnight movie sensation, leading to EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN in 1987. It was part remake and part sequel. Raimi amped up everything fans loved about the original and added significantly more slapstick comedy. With the outrageous dose of gore in DEAD BY DAWN, it was more like splatstick. And the movie elevated Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams from an Everyday Joe into a wisecracking horror icon.
In 1992, the pair returned with ARMY OF DARKNESS, which saw Ash take on Deadites while stuck in the middle ages. The third movie toned down the horror a bit while focusing even more on Ash a comedic character. And while it wasn’t a huge hit in theaters, its legacy has only grown since its release.
And STILL those Deadites were not done with Ash. In 2015, everyone got the band back together for a television show called ASH VS EVIL DEAD, which ran for three seasons, perhaps putting an end to the story of Ash Williams once and for all.
A Little Alternate History
Meanwhile, in 2013, Sam Raimi chose director Fede Álvarez to helm an EVIL DEAD remake. This movie was to be completely divorced (or was it?) from the original EVIL DEAD continuity. While sticking to the basic format of a group of friends unleashing evil in a remote cabin, this film totally eschewed EVIL DEAD’s comic side, sticking very close to horror. And not just horror either, but extreme horror. It would be hard to find a bloodier mainstream movie than the 2013 EVIL DEAD remake.
But was it truly a remake or somehow in continuity with the original films? A post-credit sequence featuring Bruce Campbell as Ash put the whole thing into question – a question that has not yet been answered in full.
Now, The Evil Dead Rise
This brings us to EVIL DEAD RISE. Written and directed by Lee Cronin (also personally handpicked by Sam Raimi), EVIL DEAD RISE brings the Deadite world to an urban setting for the first time ever.
The plot is familiar despite the setting. Two sisters reunite in a cramped Los Angeles apartment building. The discovery of a mysterious book leads them to a faceoff with an army of Deadites. Lots and lots of blood will presumably flow. Indeed, Lee Cronin told Total Film that he "needed to maintain some of the claustrophobia," and so the story "translated really well from the cabin into an urban environment. This is about a family in a rundown building stuck in their apartment, so it follows the same rhythm but puts it in a more contemporary space."
But in which EVIL DEAD continuity does this story take place? Is EVIL DEAD RISE a sequel to the Bruce Campbell films, or is it a sequel to the 2013 remake? Or will this film introduce a third line of continuity to the franchise?
Cronin says "It’s firmly in the universe… There’s a lot of fun callbacks, and there are direct lines to the past. But part of the goal of making this movie was to create something that could expand the Evil Dead universe further." One thing seems certain: Bruce Campbell will not appear in the film. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe it’s a lie. What if EVIL DEAD RISE fully bridges the worlds of the original films and the remake? How cool would that be?
Three Books of the Damned
There's one detail from the third movie by Sam Raimi, ARMY OF DARKNESS, that is worth paying attention to. In that film, the hapless Ash is faced with three Necronomicons, the demonic book that unleashes Hell on Earth. EVIL DEAD RISE director Lee Cronin envisions those books as the backbone of an overall series structure.
In an early meeting with Sam Raimi, Cronin suggested an idea. He told Empire, "I said, ‘You know the way in Army Of Darkness, there's three [Necronomicons]? You had one, Fede had one, I'm going to take the other one.’ It gave me that platform to nudge things forward, and also to showcase that we live in a world where there is more than one copy of the Necronomicon. Those books may all have slightly different personalities – it's not exactly the same book, necessarily, that Ash had in the cabin. But it's very, very firmly related. It could even be more dangerous…”
EVIL DEAD RISE opens on April 21
All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.