Evil Dead Rise Has Premiered At SXSW, See What Critics Are Saying About The Horror Franchise’s Gory New Offering

Evil Dead Rise
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

With its first movie coming over 40 years ago, Evil Dead is considered one of the best horror franchises available to fans of the genre (and CinemaBlend’s Rich Knight makes an argument for why it’s still the greatest). Now Evil Dead Rise — the fifth offering in the series — is headed our way, and even without horror movie icon Bruce Campbell wielding his chainsaw arm as Ash, the red band trailer promises plenty of unsettling madness and tons of fake blood. Evil Dead Rise made its premiere at South by Southwest, so critics are starting to weigh in on the latest installment. 

With Bruce Campbell having retired his famous character, Evil Dead Rise centers around estranged sisters Beth (Lily Sullivan) and Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), and the film also forgoes the “cabin in the woods” premise. Instead, the undead will be awakened in the apartment that Ellie shares with her three children. Let’s see what the SXSW crowd is saying about the horror flick. 

Michael Gingold of Rue Morgue says the latest installment is as bloody and horrifying as ever, and once Evil Dead Rise gets going, it maintains a level of “intense, sometimes painful terror” that infuses just enough dark humor. More from the review:  

Writer/director Lee Cronin’s film is very much of a piece with the earlier installments while also taking advantage of a bigger budget and state-of-the-art technology. More than any of the EVIL DEADs since that initial one, it’s a stripped-down, relentless exercise in, well, grueling horror; in short, it very much feels like the movie Raimi and co. would have made way back then if they’d had a lot more money.

Joe Leydon of Variety says taking the action out of the woods does nothing to dim the horror, and Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland establish themselves as worthy scream queens in this sequel. The critic continues: 

In keeping with Evil Dead tradition, there’s also an abundance of bloody mayhem that increases exponentially until a hugely satisfying and splatterific climax. And yes, to answer the inevitable question: A chainsaw figures into the mix, as does the iconic phrase ‘Dead by dawn!’

Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting agrees that the leading actresses are “fantastic” and rates the movie 3.5 skulls out of 5, calling it an “absolute crowd pleaser” that is best enjoyed in a packed theater. The critic says: 

In Lee Cronin’s attempts to forge new ground, the filmmaker never loses sight of what makes an Evil Dead movie, well, Evil Dead. The filmmaker pays tribute to the features that came before through iconic camera work, quotable lines, hero shots, beloved weaponry, and an admirable commitment to spilling the most blood possible.

Jacob Hall of SlashFilm rates the film an 8.5 out of 10, saying Lee Cronin offers horror fans the nastiest, most extreme entry in a series that's pretty well-known for being nasty and extreme. He continues: 

Yes, Evil Dead Rise is the most Evil Dead movie, from the mind-melting body horror to the outrageous creature design to the darkly comedic spring in its step. Here's a movie that invites you to treat the decimation of a family unit by demonic forces like a big ol' party. There is a select portion of the human population who will find that reprehensible. The rest of us freaks can just crack open the cursed book, read the cursed words, and enjoy the cursed ride.

Ryan Scott of Inverse says Evil Dead Rise works as both an entry point for fans new to the franchise and as a more-than-satisfying return for longtime Deadites. It absolutely delivers the goods, the critic says, for those who have the stomach for it: 

Evil Dead Rise is not for the squeamish — this particular entry pulls zero punches and leaves no drop of blood unspilled. It’s more closely related to Raimi’s original The Evil Dead or 2013’s Evil Dead, in terms of its utter brutality and lack of camp. Rise is not really aligned with the sensibilities of Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness, even though it does certainly feel like it belongs in the same universe. The point is, expect plenty of gore, savage kills, and wild scares. Once this thing gets going, it simply does not let up. Are there moments of levity? You bet! And Cronin certainly borrows from Raimi in that way, but rest assured, this is a 'strap yourself in and hang on for your life' kind of ride.

It seems like there’s plenty to be excited about with Evil Dead Rise, even without Bruce Campbell appearing as Ash Williams. The movie is set for an April 21 theatrical release, so until then, you can honor those that came before by checking out the best Sam Raimi movies, and see how to watch Bruce Campbell in his best roles. Also be sure to take a peek at all of the other horror movies coming our way this year, and if you need a break from the frights, check out our 2023 Movie Release Schedule to see what else is heading to theaters soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.