Making a sequel to an “Evil Dead” movie is probably as difficult as beating the conjurings of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis or the Naturom Demonto. “The Evil Dead” was a massive hit. But when it came to making its sequel, Sam Raimi and his team ran into a bunch of copyright issues. That forced them to reboot the film for “Evil Dead 2” while also making it seem that it was a sequel to “The Evil Dead.” As if the name of the movie wasn’t proof enough, it’s clear that “Army of Darkness” ran into a similar issue regarding the rights to intellectual property, along with a laundry list of production woes. After 24 years, “The Evil Dead” was reimagined as “Evil Dead.” Yes, a sequel was teased with Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams in the post-credits. Guess what happened? Nothing. The “Ash vs. Evil Dead” series continued for three seasons, but it had nothing to do with “Evil Dead.” And now we’ve got “Evil Dead Rise,” which seemingly has nothing to do with any of these films and doesn’t even tease a sequel. Or does it?
Major Spoilers Ahead
Without beating around the bush, the sequel tease for “Evil Dead Rise” is there in its cold open. The first thing that we see is Jessica, her cousin Teresa, and her boyfriend Caleb vacationing in a cabin in the woods, which is situated near a lake. Teresa thinks that her cousin is simply sick. But as soon as she starts to recite verses from “Wuthering Heights” and then proceeds to tear Teresa’s scalp off, we realize that she’s actually possessed. Just to confirm it further, Jessica not only decapitates Caleb but also floats over the lake while the title of the film appears on the horizon behind her.
Then Lee Cronin turns back the clocks by 24 hours to show the unearthing of the Naturom Demonto from underneath the apartment that Jessica lives in. And while the spirits unleashed by Danny wreak havoc on Ellie, Kassie, Bridget, Beth, and all those living on the 14th floor, Jessica sleeps through it because of the thunderstorm. The following day, when she makes her way to the car to go on a vacation, she notices that the lift is stuck in the basement. However, it doesn’t set off any alarm bells in her head because it’s a decrepit building anyway. When she takes the stairs, I’m guessing she doesn’t notice any of the rubble from the 12th, 13th, and 14th floors. It’s only after catching a glimpse of the bloody wood chipper in her rearview mirror that she steps out to see what has happened. When she witnesses the blood and flesh scattered all over the garage, she tries to call the police. But that’s when the demonic spirit takes over her, thereby connecting to the opening scene.
Although there’s no explicit sequel tease or post-credits at the end of “Evil Dead Rise” to indicate what we can expect from a sequel, Lee Cronin has left a few things open-ended. Teresa is stuck in the triangular cabin in the woods with Deadite Jessica. So, if the sequel decides to take things back to that cabin, they can. But there’s a good possibility that Teresa won’t last too long with that bleeding scalp. Now, if she musters the courage to get out of that dock, get in her car, and reach some nearby town, then Deadite Jessica will have a lot of meat to chew through.
“Army of Darkness” expanded its scope from a cabin to an entire kingdom. Therefore, it won’t be a stretch to move from yet another cabin to a village or a town. Extra points if the folks are highly religious. Then Deadite Jessica will have a swell time messing around with their faith in God. More extra points if the writer(s) or the director(s) finds some creative way to cut off the town from everything else, because if someone can run off into the woods or travel to the next town to hide or ask for help, then what’s the point? Then there’s the case of Beth and Kassie. They’ve been through Hell and back. At the beginning of the film, Beth explicitly stated that she didn’t believe in ghosts. Throughout the course of the film, she has been proven wrong. What is she going to do now? Does she fear that the demonic spirit is keeping track of them, especially because it’s out in the open? Will she decide to take care of the spirit once and for all so that her unborn child and Kassie can look forward to a demon-free future? In that case, she’d need some help. That opens the doors to Ash Williams and Mia Allen.
Bruce Campbell has said that he’s not going to reprise his role, probably ever. Talks of an animated revival of “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” did surface in 2022. Campbell does technically appear in “Evil Dead Rise” as the voice of a churchgoer who warns the priest not to translate the Book of the Dead. Cronin has theorized that that could be a time-displaced Ash Williams. But I won’t be putting my money on Ash showing up in the flesh because Campbell has evidently taken on the role of the producer or executive producer of this franchise. He has said that Sam and Ivan Raimi are crafting the idea of an overarching universe that’ll tie all these solo movies together so that fans don’t have to wait 10 to 20 years again for a sequel. That brings us to Jane Levy’s Mia Allen. Given how Mia, Beth, Kassie, and Teresa are the survivors of their respective “Evil Dead” films, it’ll make perfect sense for them to join hands. A deleted scene did show Mia getting a car after her whole ordeal. So, she can be in the city, or she can be in a town or a village nearby. If she’s in a town or a village near the triangular cabin, it’s possible that Teresa can catch up with her, and they can fight with Deadite Jessica and whoever else she chooses to infect. And if this is how Mia learns that there aren’t one but two Books of the Dead in existence, with both of them intact, it’s going to send her into an existential crisis.
By the way, if Mia is in the city, she can meet up with Beth and Kassie and take care of some Deadites. At least that way, she’ll be closer to one of the Books of the Dead. Yes, “Evil Dead” did show that, unlike the one from “The Evil Dead,” the book doesn’t burn. In the original, burning the book while the Sun rose caused the Deadites to melt. It didn’t stop the evil from trying to possess Ash. However, due to the sunlight, it couldn’t latch onto his soul. In “Evil Dead Rise,” they never tried to destroy the new Naturom Demonto. Hence, we don’t really know the extent to which it can fight back. We do know that sunlight has no effect on the spirit that possesses Jessica, and that’s a massive bummer. If the Raimi brothers and those in charge of greenlighting more “Evil Dead” movies decide that they don’t want to bring back older characters and they want to take things forward with newer characters, well, the solution for that is right there, lying around the unattended Books of the Dead. Given how remote the cabin in “Evil Dead” is, it’s tough for someone to simply stumble upon it and begin their own battle with the demons from Hell. You can bring up the girl from the opening of “Evil Dead” as an example and say that she did it, so others can make the same mistake as well. But since we have seen a lot of the woods, I’d love for someone to find the new-ish Book of the Dead in the apartment. The building is going to be demolished. Before that, it’s going to be cleared out or at least inspected. That’s when they’re going to find the blood, the guts, and the Deadites, who are still intact on level 14 of the building.
The chaos can spread through the demolition experts. But if the franchise wants to get a little smart, a little political, and a little campy about it, they can have the demolition experts call in the police and turn them into Deadites. If you’re familiar with the slogan “ACAB,” then you know the direction in which a sequel centered around this topic can go. Can you imagine the demons realizing that they’re better than the humans who commit police brutality and then get paid for it? It’ll be satisfying to see victims of police brutality get free rein to turn the undead police army into pieces of meat. However, it’ll be hilariously subversive if the demonic spirit decides to use its power to rid the city of its police force and give some respite to the citizens.
Given how limitless the demonic spirit is, the architects of the “Evil Dead” franchise can explore different timelines and different countries. We’ve seen what they could do in the Middle Age, a cabin in the woods, and an apartment complex from an American point of view. They can bring in filmmakers and storytellers from all over the globe who are fans of the series and let them do “Evil Dead” in a never-before-seen setting. I know that it’s a stretch, but I’d just love to see the Indian version, or at least a South Asian version, of the Naturom Demonto. Also, if the producers fall short of a Deadite who needs to be killed in the most brutal ways imaginable to the human mind, I am willing to take up that responsibility. But at the end of the day, “Evil Dead Rise” needs to be a box-office hit, and there needs to be a steady demand to motivate producers to give the thumbs-up to an “Evil Dead” sequel. So, go and watch the film, form your own opinion about it, advertise what you want from the franchise, and celebrate the horror genre.