Evil Dead Rise isn't a direct sequel to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead (1981) or its 2013 remake. It's a similar story that does take place in the Evil Dead universe, because, according to Rise, there are three volumes of that pesky Book of the Dead floating around.
The rebellious Beth (Lily Sullivan) discovers that she is pregnant, so she goes to visit her estranged sister, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), for some advice. Ellie is a single mom living in a dilapidated high rise apartment with her three kids - Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), Danny (Morgan Davies) and young Kassie (Nell Fisher). A mild earthquake ruptures a section of the concrete floor of the apartment's parking garage, exposing a secret basement. Exploring the basement, Danny finds the Book of the Dead and several vinyl records. Of course, for a horror movie to work, characters have to do stupid things. Danny decides to play one of the records, which has a priest reciting an incantation, and that unleashes demonic forces into the building. The demons can possess a person with ease, and the only way to stop the possessed is by bodily dismemberment.
Writer-director Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground) has basically transported Raimi's original from a cabin in the woods setting to a high rise apartment complex in the city. The high rise is a refreshing setting for an Evil Dead film, but filmmaker Lamberto Bava did this back in 1986 with Demons 2.
Rise hits many of the same beats and even reinvents certain iconic scenes from the first two films. For instance, the original has a nasty scene where a character is, well, raped by tree limbs (Raimi recently admitted that he had gone too far), so here a character is attacked by wires and cables in an elevator.
There are also lots of in jokes and references to the past Evil Deads, and they are generally clever and/or amusing, but sometimes you want Rise to be its own thing.
Evil Dead Rise is a little pokey in its early scenes, but once it kicks into high gear it is a bloody, bloody, bloody wild ride. The parking garage/chainsaw finale is awesome. Be warned - this movie is gleefully disgusting. Look, at one point a character is eating glass, and as they swallow, you see the shards slicing their throat from the inside.
Evil Dead Rise is a well-made horror picture that generates suspense, has a creepy uneasiness throughout, and makes you care about the main characters. In the early Evil Deadfilms, Raimi displays a mischievous attitude where he just wants to see the characters die. Cronin, however, seems to care about this family unit and wants them to survive the terror...well some of them, at least...maybe.