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Director Lee Cronin and ‘Evil Dead Rise’: Apartment buildings full of evil, deadites, and kitchen appliances

The writer/director briefly speaks about his iteration of the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise and it’s breakneck pace.

Warner Bros Pictures/ New Line Cinema

For over 40 years, The Evil Dead franchise started by Sam Raimi has made us cringe at the sight of unsuspecting victims reading from the Necronomicon (the book of the dead), showing the terror and sometimes comical sides of the deadites, and championing the usage of rusty chainsaws. Where most of the iterations of the franchise’s horrific stylings originate from a remote cabin in the woods, writer/director Lee Cronin moved the location to an apartment building in Los Angeles.

Given that Cronin started writing the story in February and March of 2020, you can see the parallels between the scary time we were all experiencing and the literal demons gnawing outside one family’s door. But never fear – even though the place is subject to a level of confinement, it doesn’t mean there isn’t mayhem and dismemberment to be had. (You may do a double take at your cheese grater).

There are some new rules and scenarios, but the classic feeling of it all is still present in Rise. The filmmaker briefly discussed the film’s rollercoaster-like speed and story parallels that find their way into this new tale.

Hole In The Ground dealt with a single mother and the fears around raising her son after ending a relationship. Evil Dead Rise shows a woman at the beginning of motherhood going to seek advice from her sister, a single mother of three kids. Was that theme in the back of your mind crafting this new installment?

Lee Cronin: You know, it’s interesting. I’m drawn to the same themes in the characters and situations. A lot of storytellers often are – you’re drawn back to the same well of the things that inspire you,

I wasn’t thinking about The Hole In The Ground a lot because I was thinking about the energy of an Evil Dead movie, which was very different. Hole In The Ground is more of a slow burn, creep-fest – whereas this is a bit more gung ho. It's more afterward and talking to people like you who get to look at my work and give an impression that you realize, “Yeah, I made a creepy kid movie. Now it made a creepy mom movie.”

So, it is interesting to see the mirror between the two. Although I think the temperature of this film is way, way hotter than something like The Hole In The Ground.

There’s maybe a short breath of relief before things go downhill fast. You get a quick sense of who these characters are, and then it’s all systems go. Did you consciously want the film that gets the audience from point A to B in a quick fashion?

Lee Cronin: I knew I wanted the film to be super energetic and entertaining. The way I looked at it is that I didn’t want the characters to have much time to reflect on what they were going through. That would lead to unnecessary exposition you don’t need in a movie like this. What I wanted was for them just to be driven forward on this insane kind of roller coaster of terror.

From that point of view, it’s a weird structure. In this movie, I want to have this cold open that scares people, subverts expectations, and unsettles them. It’s so that when we meet these nice people in their home – we know in the back of our minds, “Bad things are gonna happen here.”

Once I’ve done that and made the turn in the movie, then it’s like, “It’s got to be a juggernaut.” It’s got to be something that keeps on building and building until it has this hugely bloody and operatic conclusion. Audiences seem to be responding to how the movie runs and how you’re dragged – kicking and screaming along the way of the story.