Moving the action from the forest back to the city, The Book of the Dead: Demonic Possession tells the twisted story of two estranged sisters, played by Sutherland and Sullivan, whose reunion is interrupted by the appearance of demons possessing humans, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival , while dealing with the most nightmarish version of a family possible.
The new film in the Evil Dead franchise offers stylized carnage that is merciless and without measure, but well received by fans and the general public.
The charm of this franchise born forty years ago, from the first The Evil Dead in 1981 (directed by the 20-year-old Sam Raimi), is the way it combines zombie mythology with the occult and demonism on the one hand, and on the other part gore with black humor, parodying a camp style. The recipe for what would become a franchise openly declares its kitsch: the cabin in the woods, the ignorant youth, the book of death, interdimensional vortexes, sadism and excess blood. Added to this is the fact that the spirit is only defeated to the extent that the host body has no limbs left to attack you – which, in the case of dolls and eighties prosthetic makeup, becomes more comical than frightening.
Instead, Fede Álvarez’s 2013 reimagining of the first film, Evil Dead, came with a shift in tone, ditching the self-parody in favor of sadism and a more serious emotional stake. And the new Evil Dead Rise continues in this new direction. Of course, with little raised eyebrows, with lines that have more of a comic effect, but the sadism does not lack anything. Rezigor Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) seeks the most inventive forms of mutilation. His characters are reduced to the status of flesh, decapitated, amputated, gnawed, contorted, bitten and shot in every possible way, even almost drowned in an elevator full of blood, which, once it reaches its maximum weight, spills iconographically as in The Shining, leaving us with their painted faces. Next, the dead say insulting or threatening things to the living, but especially to children. You can easily imagine how they perceived the footage.
As in the penultimate Evil Dead, the action is centered around a family. Beth (Lily Sullivan), who works as a tour technician, visits her recently divorced sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three children, who live in an old apartment building in L.A. what is to be demolished; and them, evacuated. Beth, the absent sister, was not with Ellie during the breakup, and her pregnancy test at the beginning of the film sets up the ensuing carnage as a kind of maternity test.
The sleepers are doing their best to make an appearance. An earthquake surprises the kids out for pizza in the block’s parking lot, where the wall collapses and reveals the vault in the basement of the former bank that once housed there. Here, one of the kids finds, as per franchise tradition, a mysterious book and some vinyl records that, once listened to, play the last words of a priest, an incantation from that tome of perdition. It doesn’t take long and the incantation transforms Ellie into a devouring mother. Forced to surrender her body to the demonic spirit, she hunts down her now sequestered family in that claustrophobic building, left with no elevator and no stairs.
The arsenal of the two camps, the living and the sleeping, also includes objects cleverly placed in the story, but you can’t help but wonder what a chainsaw or a huge meat grinder is doing there. At the same time, nothing in this film is second to none, starting with the story and ending with thousands of liters of blood. And if a horror film evokes fear and disgust, the balance here clearly tilts towards the latter. Invariably, the paradigm of man reduced to flesh doesn’t just desensitize us viewers, it starts even with the characters, who seem to quickly get over the death of their loved ones, or the fact that the sleepers are among us. The preoccupation with survival seems to smooth their emotions and suppress their natural reactions, because that implies the status of meat.