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Evil Dead Rise - What We Know So Far

Horror fans, rejoice — the "Evil Dead" are coming back to swallow your soul.

In an interview with Diabolique, producer Bruce "Super-Chin" Campbell revealed that not only is a fourth (or fifth, depending on how you look at it) installment in the venerable horror franchise finally gearing up to enter production, it even has a name: "Evil Dead Rise."

For those of you who recently got hit in the head with a large rock, a brief rundown: Campbell has been involved in the franchise from the very beginning, appearing in the lead role of Ashley J. Williams in writer-director Sam Raimi's debut feature, 1981's succinctly titled "Evil Dead." Produced using borderline-guerrilla tactics on a shoestring budget, the flick set itself apart from typical early-'80s slasher fare with its innovative camera work, creepy setting (a dilapidated cabin in the middle of some foreboding woods), and ferocious violence. In it, Ash, his girlfriend Linda, and their three buddies head off for a weekend of camping at the cabin, only to unleash the fury of ancient demons by inadvertently playing back recordings of incantations from the Sumerian Book of the Dead  the "Necronomicon."

1987's "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn" was essentially a remake of the first film on a much higher budget (and don't let anybody tell you otherwise), and it injected healthy amounts of slapstick comedy to go along with its buckets of gore. The flick became an instant cult classic, and spawned a true sequel: 1992's "Army of Darkness," which saw Ash battling "Deadites" in medieval times after getting sucked into a whirling interdimensional vortex at the conclusion of the previous film.

The franchise received a soft reboot in 2013 with writer-director Fede Alvarez's "Evil Dead," which featured an all-new, Campbell-less cast visiting the infamous cabin. That flick was, without hyperbole, one of the most terrifying movies of the last 20 years or so. Raimi and Campbell, who produced the flick, teased that they were working on something new in July 2019 — and now, we have a few more details.

What is the release date for Evil Dead Rise?

In his Diabolique interview, Campbell spent a great deal of time discussing his upcoming book "The Cool Side of My Pillow." In fact, he was only asked for an update on a new "Evil Dead" flick as an afterthought, and while his answer was short and sweet, there's still quite a bit to unpack. "The official name is Evil Dead Rise," Campbell said. "We're getting a new draft in. I don't think anything will happen until 2021. Full bore ahead, we're very excited about it. A whole, new ballgame. No more cabin in the woods."

Variety is now reporting that "Evil Dead Rise" is indeed full-steam ahead at the franchise's original home, New Line, and that the finished product will forego a traditional theatrical release and instead head directly to HBO Max without passing Go nor collecting box office receipts. As previously rumored, Lee Cronin ("The Hole in the Ground") penned the screenplay and will be directing this outing, with both Raimi and Campbell attached as executive producers. Per Variety, the film is set to begin production in New Zealand in June.

We can expect it to take a year or more from the time production commences to the flick being ready to stream, so expect to see "Evil Dead Rise" sometime in 2022. We're going to go out on a limb and predict that the film will drop right around, oh, say, Halloween — but you may want to bookmark this page, because we'll be updating it with an official release date as soon as there's an announcement.

Will Bruce Campbell star in Evil Dead Rise?

The 2013 edition of "Evil Dead" subtly acknowledged the events of the previous films, making it as much sequel as it was reboot — a "seboot," if you will. After spending its entire run time making audiences scream in pure terror, it gave them a post-credits sequence which made them scream in utter delight: Bathed in darkness, lit only from behind, we saw Campbell as Ash, intoning a single word — "groovy" — before whipping his head around to face the audience.

This set off wild speculation that Jane Levy's Mia, the hero of the movie, would cross paths with Ash in some kind of crossover film (inasmuch as a franchise can cross over with itself). Apparently, though, this isn't going to happen, as "Evil Dead Rise" will ignore the 2013 Sony reboot, and instead follow from the original trilogy. 

After reprising the role of Ash for three seasons between 2015 and 2018 on the Starz series "Ash vs. Evil Dead," Campbell has made it clear that he's done with the character — and that the franchise, in his opinion, will be better for it. That decision has apparently held fast, since Variety is now reporting that Campbell's only role in "Evil Dead Rise" will be in his capacity as executive producer.

Is Evil Dead Rise a sequel to Army of Darkness?

Of course, just because there will be no Ash doesn't mean that "Evil Dead Rise" won't revisit the mythology of previous films. Campbell previously teased a change of scenery in a 2020 interview with Empire, and that tidbit has now been confirmed by Variety. The trade reports that "Evil Dead Rise" will both serve as a sequel of sorts to "Army of Darkness," but that the film will move the action from medieval times back to the modern day, and from an isolated cabin to a more urban setting. 

As far back as late 2013, Campbell has stated publicly that "Army of Darkness 2" is a non-starter. That comment taken in context with all the new information about the urban setting and the lack of Ash suggests "Evil Dead Rises" will exist within the continuity of the first three films, but will not serve as an immediate sequel to "Army of Darkness" in either setting or tone. Will it then be terrifying, like the retconned 2013 reboot "Evil Dead"? We'll have to wait to find out more specifics.

Who is in the cast of Evil Dead Rise?

Okay, so, no Ash. Thanks to the Starz series, Campbell has given us more of that character than we ever reasonably expected to get, so we can live with that. In fact, the 2013 edition of "Evil Dead" worked beautifully without him (save for that tiny little post-credits cameo), so we're of the opinion that keeping the series focused on fresh characters is a good plan.

According to Variety, the next twisted chapter in the "Evil Dead" saga will take at least one page out of the reboot's book and feature an entirely new cast of characters. "Evil Dead Rise" is set to follow two sisters played by Alyssa Sutherland ("Vikings") and Lily Sullivan ("Dark Place") who reunite only to be interrupted by the series' trademark horde of body-possessing demons.

Campbell, for his part, seems stoked about the casting. In a statement regarding the recent slew of announcements, he said, "At its core, 'Evil Dead' is about ordinary people overcoming extraordinarily terrifying situations. I can't wait for Alyssa and Lily to fill the blood-soaked shoes of those who have come before them and carry on that tradition" (via Variety). 

With production about to begin overseas, more casting announcements are undoubtedly imminent, so stay tuned.

What is the plot of Evil Dead Rise?

Back when the project was first rumored in 2020, we speculated that Campbell, Raimi, and Cronin might finally move "Evil Dead" into the big city. Our suspicions proved prophetic. For years, the principals involved with the "Evil Dead" franchise have been intimating that they like to think of the series as unbound to the specific elements that make up films past. That clearly includes both the character Ash, the remote, rural setting, and even the comedic tone, which has infiltrated the series to varying degrees over the years. "Army of Darkness" was easily the most comedic of the lot, while the 2013 reboot was the most unrelentingly terrifying.

Our best guess from reading between the lines of the latest announcements is that "Evil Dead Rise" will hew closer in tone to the first two "Evil Dead" films, and may even approach the levels of sheer horror achieved by the 2013 reboot. Campbell, at least, has been clear that this film will not be "Army of Darkness 2," so campy time-travel film is certainly out.

No matter which direction the creative team goes, the introduction of female protagonists and the urban setting will ensure a fresh "Evil Dead" experience.

Is there a trailer for Evil Dead Rise?

Obviously, with production only about to begin, we don't have anything resembling a trailer for "Evil Dead Rise," and won't for a long time. Hopefully, though, we can count on some set leaks and production stills to tide us over as filming commences in New Zealand. Following May's big info-dump, we should expect a steady drip drip of information until the first teaser trailer arrives. Casting has likely already concluded, so expect new information on that front in good time.

Speaking of which, we should reiterate that we'll be regularly updating this post with any developments that come down the pike, so we suggest giving it a bookmark. In the meantime, get caught up with the original three films (at the very least) and treat yourself to "Ash vs. Evil Dead." The series was woefully overlooked when it aired on Starz, and is more than worth your time as you await "Evil Dead Rise."