The Big Picture
- Evil Dead Rise is a thrilling installment in the iconic horror franchise, filled with spine-chilling moments and praised for its blood and gore.
- The film fits into the franchise by taking place in the same universe as Ash and Mia’s adventures, while also offering a fresh perspective and new cast of characters.
- The presence of three Books of the Dead in the franchise, as revealed by Bruce Campbell, allows Evil Dead Rise to be a sequel while also accommodating the different storylines and reimaginations in the series.
Earlier this year, Evil Dead Rise brought back the Deadites to theaters, with director Lee Cronin taking over the franchise created by Sam Raimi. As in previous Evil Dead movies, Evil Dead Rise unleashes demons when a family inadvertently reads summoning passages of the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead. Evil Dead Rise is filled with spine-chilling moments, and is one of the best-reviewed horror movies of the year, with some considering it one of the strongest installments of the iconic horror franchise. This can be chalked down to Cronin not holding back on the blood and gore, the fantastic performances from both the adults and the child actors, and how the film slotted neatly into the franchise’s lore while being a separate beast all its own. Evil Dead Rise has just landed on Prime Video, so, whether you’re rewatching it for the umpteenth time or only checking it out for the first time now, you might be scratching your head as to how the film fits into the franchise. Is the most recent Evil Dead movie a remake, sequel, reboot, or just a completely independent story? The answer is not quite so simple.
We’ve kept this free of any Evil Dead Rise spoilers for those who want to get their ducks in a row before experiencing its insanity.
Evil Dead Rise
A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.
- Release Date
- April 21, 2023
- Lee Cronin
- Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher
- 97 minutes
- Main Genre
How Did the Evil Dead Franchise Begin?
Released in 1981, The Evil Dead kicked off Raimi’s prolific filmmaking career and turned Bruce Campbell into a B-movie king. The movie follows a group of college students who accidentally unleash Deadites when spending a weekend in a cabin in the woods. The unrelenting violence of The Evil Dead caught the attention of horror master Stephen King, whose flattering review of the film helped it to become a hit. Unfortunately for Raimi, it would be another few years before his career really kicked into high gear. After The Evil Dead, Raimi hit a crossroads between success and failure when Crimewave flopped at the box office. The only way out of his dire situation was to return to the franchise that put him on the map. With the help of King, Raimi was able to release Evil Dead II six years after the original, in 1987. However, while Evil Dead II had ten times the budget of the first movie, Raimi was asked to keep the story practically identical to the original The Evil Dead. That’s why Evil Dead II is part sequel, part remake of The Evil Dead. This history lesson is fundamental to defining what Evil Dead Rise is because it lets us know how, since its inception, the Evil Dead franchise was not so concerned with canon or timeline. All Raimi wanted to do was bring great movies to theaters — and that he did.
Both The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II star Campbell as Ash Williams, a chainsaw-wielding warrior who fights the forces of darkness. Ash was back in theaters with Army of Darkness in 1992, a time-traveling adventure that takes the hero back to medieval times. Army of Darkness starts exactly after Evil Dead II’s ending, which makes it a straightforward sequel. However, after this third chapter, the cinematic franchise remained dormant for two decades. Sure, Evil Dead comic books and video games were still being released. Still, the next movie in the franchise, Evil Dead, would only hit theaters in 2013.
How Does the 2013 Evil Dead Remake Fit Into the Franchise?
Directed by Fede Álvarez, 2013’s Evil Dead is part sequel and part remake, following the franchise’s tradition of putting quality over franchise cohesion. As such, Álvarez’s movie introduced a new hero, Mia (Jane Levy), who fights the Deadites in a cabin in the woods just like Ash did in the first two movies. While 2013’s Evil Dead was supposed to reimagine the franchise, the movie has some explicit connections to Ash Williams. We can see the original hero’s car near the cabin, and Campbell even shows up in a post-credit scene. For those reasons, we cannot consider the 2013 movie a remake. Still, it’s not exactly a sequel because the spinoff series Ash vs. Evil Dead, which stars Campbell’s Ash, doesn’t take the events of the Álvarez movie into consideration. Specifically, in the show, Ash returns to the cabin in the woods to retrieve the Necronomicon, which should be in Mia’s possession.
And then we get to Evil Dead Rise, which invites a new director to take over the franchise. The main elements are still part of the new movie, which also revolves around the Necronomicon, dark incantations, and Deadites. Nevertheless, the film takes place in a new location and features an entirely different cast. So, considering the franchise’s complicated production history, is Evil Dead Rise a reboot, a standalone story, or a sequel? The answer is all of the above. Evil Dead Rise reimagines the franchise through Cronin’s gaze, so it’s okay to approach it as a reboot of sorts, which might result in direct sequels being developed in the near future. However, we can also see Evil Dead Rise as an independent story that happens in the same universe as Ash’s and Mia’s adventures. After all, some elements connect all of the movies. In addition, one specific scene of Army of Darkness gives us everything we need to consider Evil Dead Rise a direct sequel too.
‘Army of Darkness’ Allows ‘Evil Dead Rise’ To Be a Sequel
In Army of Darkness, Ash is sent to the past and is tasked with recovering the Necronomicon. Ash finds the book in a cemetery, but there’s a catch. There are actually three Books of the Dead, and Ash needs to figure out the real one. Until recently, we thought there was only one Necronomicon, and the other two books were decoys. However, in a recent interview with Collider, Campbell revealed the three books are real. As the star puts it, “There are three of these books out there, as we found out in Army of Darkness, so you never know where they’re going to pop up. So this story is really ‘where is the book now?’” By making three Books of the Dead canon, Campbell solved every inconsistency in the Evil Dead franchise. Ash’s story is connected to one of the books, Mia handled a second copy of the cursed object, and now there’s a third one in Cronin’s sequel. In short, there’s no reason to worry too much about the status of Evil Dead Rise — it really can be enjoyed by everyone, even those who haven’t seen any of the earlier installments. But if canon keeps you awake in the middle of the night, the Books of the Dead are the perfect tool for fitting every Evil Dead movie into a single unified timeline.
Evil Dead Rise is available to stream in the U.S. on Amazon Prime Video
Watch on Amazon
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