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The Biggest Unanswered Questions In Evil Dead Rise

Come and get some because "Evil Dead" is back. The wild, not-quite-zombie movie franchise began with Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" in 1981, and boy has it gone places since then. Ash Williams, the original series protagonist, has traveled from medieval kingdoms to a post-apocalyptic future. With the help of a chainsaw and his trusty boom stick, he's slayed Deadites in multiple millennia.

"Evil Dead Rise" from director Lee Cronin is the latest installment in the franchise. The movie isn't exactly a reboot, and it's not entirely a sequel. But regardless of how "Evil Dead Rise" fits into the overall franchise, it's still a delightfully gory, utterly terrifying experience that plenty of "Evil Dead" fans are going to love.

As any good "Evil Dead" movie does, "Rise" keeps things pretty simple. The Naturom Demonto shows up, the Deadites are unleashed, and the horror gets to horrifying. Taking notes won't be necessary to keep track of the movie's plot but considering its association with four decades of franchise history, quite a few questions are going to come up over the course of this movie's 96-minute runtime. Don't go look for answers in the Book of Dead, we've got a safer solution ready to go.

How did the Naturom Demonto end up under the apartment?

It wouldn't be "Evil Dead" without the Naturom Demonto, otherwise known as the Book of the Dead. Ash first encounters the book all the way back at the beginning of the franchise, and it's arguably just as creepy as the Deadites it summons. Naturom Demonto is a book with bindings and pages made of human flesh, and all its writing and images are made from blood. Anyone who reads the Book of the Dead aloud will inevitably raise the Deadites and cause untold misery for themselves and the rest of humanity.

The Book of the Dead has a habit of showing up in the worst places at the worst times. In "The Evil Dead" Ash and his friends discover it in their cabin right at the start of their vacation. This time around, Danny stumbles upon the book in a bit of anti-serendipity after an earthquake opens a sinkhole in his apartment building's parking garage.

The Naturom Demonto's hiding place in "Evil Dead Rise" is a bit confusing. At first it looks like the sinkhole leads to an abandoned bank vault, but when Danny starts poking around, he finds religious texts and what looks to be a large sarcophagus that contains the book. The movie doesn't waste much time exploring how the Book of the Dead got there, but it seems like the priests who had it originally thought a bank would be the safest place to hide the book away from curious people.

Is there more than one Book of the Dead?

The Naturom Demonto isn't the only thing that Danny pulls out of the parking garage sinkhole. He also finds a collection of vinyl records that contain recordings of the priests who were studying the book. Danny busts out those records on his massive turntable and tries to figure out what exactly he's found. Unfortunately, the priests recorded their own reading of the Book of the Dead, and the Deadites are unleashed on Danny's family.

Most of what Danny hears on the recordings is information that longtime fans of the series already know. The priests talk about the terrifying power of the Naturom Demonto, and after reading its mysterious incantations they also detail the horror that unfolds around them. At one point in the records, though, a priest says something that might have big implications for the "Evil Dead" franchise. He mentions that the Book of the Dead is actually three different books.

Longtime fans have seen multiple versions of the Book of the Dead over the years, and in theory all of them were the same book, just brought to life in different movies. Now we know that there are different versions of the book out there, and that could set up some new conflicts for the series.

Where are all the dads?

Beth's introduction in "Evil Dead Rise" reveals that she's pregnant. She decides to reunite with her sister Ellie to ask for advice on what to do next. When the two get together, Beth learns that the father of Ellie's three children recently abandoned the family and now just sends a bit of child support every month.

Parenthood is a major focus in the movie. Obviously, Ellie's kids are caught up in the bloodshed after the Deadites show up at the apartment, but the creatures themselves seem to have a weird obsession with parents and children. The Deadite possessing Ellie's corpse in particular has a fascination with children. It tries talking to Ellie's kids on multiple occasions, and when it realizes that Beth is pregnant, it's absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to claim two souls at once.

The first section of the movie spends so much time focusing on missing fathers that some kind of reveal near the end of the movie seems all but guaranteed. That doesn't happen, though. By the time credits roll, the movie's revealed absolutely nothing about the father of Beth's child or Kassie's missing dad. If anything, the mysteries were just there to try to increase the tension. After all, what's scarier than the unknown?

Is Ash still around?

Bruce Campbell's character Ash Williams has been the heart and soul of the "Evil Dead" franchise since 1981. Ash is simultaneously a typical slasher movie victim, a Deadite-slaying machine, and a bit of a bumbling fool. His charming buffoonery helps sell the comedic aspects of this otherwise terrifying franchise.

The 2013 "Evil Dead" reboot decided to leave Ash by the wayside, but more recently he returned to the franchise for the TV series "Ash vs Evil Dead." The show ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2018, and it ends with Ash riding off into a post-apocalyptic future armed with a new robotic hand that will likely help him continue slaying Deadites for as long as he lives.

The "Evil Dead" franchise has always been willing to bend its own canon, so an appearance from Ash in "Evil Dead Rise" wasn't out of the question. That said, the fact that he doesn't show up in the film shouldn't surprise anyone. Campbell himself announced his retirement as Ash on Twitter shortly after the cancellation of "Ash vs Evil Dead." For now, fans will just have to hold on to their own theories about whatever Ash is getting up to in his demonic future timeline.

Where does this fit in the Evil Dead timeline?

The entire "Evil Dead" story spans medieval Europe to a far, sci-fi future. Only a few elements, like Deadites, chainsaws, and gallons of blood, link the various installments in the franchise. What makes piecing together the "Evil Dead" timeline even more difficult is that the series doesn't take its own continuity all that seriously.

In the first "Evil Dead" movie, Ash and his friends head out to a cabin in the woods and encounter the Book of the Dead and the Deadites. In the second movie ... they do it all over again. "Evil Dead 2" is part sequel, part reboot, and entirely a must-watch horror movie. The third film sends Ash back in time to the Middle Ages, and the 2013 reboot mostly pretends that all that other stuff didn't happen.

"Ash vs Evil Dead" further complicates the timeline by making everything that happened before it technically canonical, logic be damned. With "Evil Dead Rise," the series had a chance to finally clarify things, but in classic "Evil Dead" fashion, it decided not to. Because the movie is set in modern times, we know that it has to take place after the earliest "Evil Dead" movies, but beyond that we don't know anything about where "Rise" lands on the timeline. It could be in a separate continuity entirely.

What do the Deadites actually want?

The real stars of the "Evil Dead" franchise are the Deadites themselves. Unlike some other horror movie antagonists, Deadites don't fit into a particular monster-shaped box. They aren't quite zombies, and they aren't quite demons. They somewhat follow typical possession rules, but the bodies they inhabit are capable of superhuman feats of strength and, apparently, also have the ability to fuse together into a nightmare-inducing, multi-limbed monstrosity.

Longtime fans are obviously very familiar with how Deadites function in this universe, but newcomers might walk away from "Evil Dead Rise" wondering what exactly the Deadites want. Luckily, there's no reason to be confused because the Deadites are pretty surface-level villains. They want to cause fear, chaos, death, and destruction. They delight in tormenting humans, and if they had their way, they would overrun the entire planet and turn all of humanity into horror movie protagonists. Deadites are less like three-dimensional characters and more like vehicles for gratuitous slasher plots, but of course, "Evil Dead" is all the better for it.

Is there any way to really kill the Deadites?

After the Deadites show up in the apartment, everyone finds themselves fighting for their lives with whatever objects are on hand. The movie shows Deadites being stabbed, shot, suffocated, and lit on fire. No matter what comes their way, the Deadites get back up, shout a string of profanities, and continue their murderous assault on the humans left alive.

In an act of desperation, Beth decides to listen to more of the vinyl recordings that Danny found beneath the parking garage. She hopes to discover some new incantation that will send the Deadites back to wherever they came from. Instead, she hears a tearful priest saying that seemingly nothing can stop the creatures. He suggests limb-by-limb dismemberment as a potential solution to the problem.

Eventually Beth gets the chance to hack and slash the Deadite version of Ellie into tiny pieces. That gives her and Kassie enough breathing room to escape the building, but as the ending of "Evil Dead Rise" reveals, it's not enough to stop the Deadites entirely. Individual Deadites can become so damaged that they're ineffective, but nothing can truly stop them. As Ash Williams learned long ago, even if you stop a Deadite invasion in medieval times, some poor soul in the 21st century will find a new copy of the Book of the Dead and accidentally bring them back.

How did the Deadites get out of the apartment building?

"Evil Dead Rise" opens with three people taking a vacation at a lakeside cabin. Naturally, one of them is possessed by a Deadite and all hell literally breaks loose. Then the movie jumps back to 24 hours earlier and tells the story of Beth and her sister Ellie's family. At the end of the movie, we learn that one of the vacationers — a woman named Jessica — lived in Ellie's building. As she prepares to leave for the cabin the morning after the Deadite incursion, she gets possessed.

Question answered, right? Well, not exactly. The movie's explanation leaves plenty of room for uncertainty. For one thing, did Jessica really not hear all the screaming, fighting, and shooting that was happening in her building the night before? Setting that aside, we also know that the Deadites only possess corpses, and the possession seems to set in immediately. If a Deadite kills Jessica in the parking garage, how does it meet up with her friends and travel all the way out to their cabin?

Look, at the end of the day, the cabin scene is cool. The idea of having Deadites spreading out into the world is both a terrifying prospect and a tantalizing concept for a potential sequel to "Evil Dead Rise." Sometimes the rule of cool wins out against the specific, nitty gritty mechanics of Deadite possession.

Are there still more Deadites in the building?

Deadite Ellie is the main antagonist of "Evil Dead Rise" but as she rampages through the apartment building, more and more people become possessed by the Deadites. Two of her children, Danny and Bridget, end up turning into monsters, and several of their neighbors also become members of the undead. At the film's climax, Ellie, Danny, and Bridget fuse into one awful creature that Beth manages to defeat with a chainsaw, a grinding truck, and a bit of luck.

After taking out the combo creature, Beth and Kassie sprint out of the building and leave their horrifying night behind them. No one can blame them for getting out of there as fast as possible, but their haste might make you wonder if Beth and Kassie leave a handful of Deadites still alive on the floors above the garage. This would be an astute thing to wonder about, because they definitely do that. 

At the end of the movie, Jessica gets attacked and possessed by one of the remaining Deadites. The movie doesn't make it clear if Jessica's attacker is one of Ellie's neighbors or some remnant of Ellie herself, but either way, that entire apartment building is still overrun with the undead.

What happened to the Naturom Demonto?

Danny first discovers the Book of the Dead alongside some creepy vinyl recordings beneath his building's parking garage. Then he brings the book and vinyl up to his bedroom, and from there accidentally causes the Deadites to show up. The last time the movie shows the book, it's lying on Danny's desk while Beth is doing her best to keep the kids alive without dying herself.

As the chaos escalates, Beth and Kassie make a run for the garage. There they come face to face with Ellie and manage to finally defeat her before making their mistake — they don't take the time to go back and clean up the mess upstairs, and why would they? That means by the end of the movie, the Book of the Dead is still up in Danny's bedroom.

It's fairly easy to imagine what happens next. Early in the movie Ellie says that her family needs to move out of the building because it's going to be torn down. Presumably the wrecking ball will come, and the Naturom Demonto will end up buried in the rubble. In a best-case scenario, no one will ever discover it, and life can continue moving along Deadite-free, but the way fate works in the "Evil Dead" franchise, it's only a matter of time before someone unburies the book and the whole show starts all over again.

Where will Beth and Kassie go now?

By the end of the movie, Beth and Kassie are thankfully still alive and safely outside of the Deadite-infested building. It's not very clear what the two of them are going to do next. They could try to explain what happened to someone else, and maybe a team of people would then end up investigating Ellie's apartment building before it gets torn down. That would only lead to more death, and Beth has to know that the safest course of action would just be to run and try hard to pretend that nothing ever happened.

Unfortunately, if Beth and Kassie just make a break for it, they still aren't out of the woods. The Deadite that possessed Jessica is still out there, and it may very well be planning on spreading as many Deadites as possible across the world. It seems very likely that Beth and Kassie are going to find themselves in a position similar to Ash Williams. They'll be destined to fight the Deadites again and again until they find some way to permanently separate the world of demons from our own. Or until audiences lose their fascination with "Evil Dead." Hopefully the two of them are ready for a long run.