Evil Dead Rise breathes a new undead life into the iconic franchise, and it does this with Lee Cronin at the helm. We sat down with Lee Cronnin to dive into the film, its horror easter eggs, Catholicism, taking care of actors, and what he hopes fans take away from the film when the credits roll.
BUT WHY THO: There are so many overt nods to iconic horror moments throughout Evil Dead Rise. And it’s phenomenal because you’ve also managed to make them your own. I wanted to know if you put any more intimate nods just for yourself that people may not notice right off the bat.
LEE CRONIN: There are a lot of easter eggs in the movie. That’s kind of the that’s the straight answer. I think the deeper people dig, the more that they’ll find, I kind of don’t want to give away what they are. Because the more that you actually dig in, you know, you’re gonna have to go watch this movie two or three times to find everything that’s there. But I did have a lot of fun. Easter eggs are very much a secondary thing to the story that you’re trying to tell. But it was really fun for me as a horror fan to communicate with horror fans that way, and to share some really fun tips of the cap to both Evil Dead and other elements of the horror world that I love.
BUT WHY THO: That makes sense. And it totally worked. I mean, the elevator scene…
LEE CRONIN: I love the shining, and I can’t not put a shining reference in everything that I do.
BUT WHY THO: And you chose one of the best ones!
LEE CRONIN: Yeah, I thought like we never saw inside the elevator in The Shining. So it was my opportunity to say, well, this is the sort of thing you’re gonna have a lot of blood in an elevator. Let’s see what it looks like.
Read Our Review of Evil Dead Rise Here.
BUT WHY THO: When it comes to shooting with blood and shooting in action, do you take shooting action-based scenes or really bloody scenes differently from the more dramatic ones that happen in the film?
LEE CRONIN: I think so I think in terms of how you’re communicating with your actors, it’s often quite different depending on your if you’re doing a more dramatic or emotionally driven scene. Or then also when you’re working on something that’s action, there’s a lot of stunts to it. But you’ve also got to remember, you’ve got to keep the emotional center of the characters and where they are. So what I try to do shooting those scenes is protect the actors as much as I can from the machine that’s at work so that they can purely focus on their performance.
BUT WHY THO: And when it comes to that, was there any kind of like, action aftercare that went on? And when you were done filming?
LEE CRONIN: What do you mean by action aftercare?
BUT WHY THO: Lilly had mentioned that everybody laughed on set after something really big and bad happened, especially working with young actors. And you said you protect [the actors], so I wanted to see what went into all of that [after a brutal scene].
LEE CRONIN: I think like, at times, depending on what we’re doing it often brings the cast to the monitor when we had captured a really great kind of scary moment or a really cool stunt, or, you know, the crescendo of a set piece. And it was important for the cast to have a good time because making an Evil Dead movie is a really grueling journey. And if everybody felt just trapped in their trailer on their own at the end of the day, and it wouldn’t really lend itself for a great vibe and a great environment, the next day you came back in. Because if every day you came onto this set, after about a week, every day you came in, you just had, you know, the hardest day. It was fun, but it was really hard.
Everybody was involved with stunts, and, you know, blood work and having to get themselves into really heightened emotional states too. Because there’s a point in that movie where every character’s heart rate goes to a place that it never drops below ever again. So from that point of view, it was important for everybody to have a little bit of catharsis at the end of the day. I was lucky to have a cast that I developed nice personal relationships with and was able to off camera, you know, quell their fears, have a joke, have a laugh, have a beer at the end of the day, and kind of hang out. Kids obviously weren’t drinking beer.
Watch Our Interview With Alyssa Sutherland and Lully Sullivan Here.
BUT WHY THO:
I think one of the other really interesting things I thought was the way that the film used a different kind of Catholicism than we usually see. Did you work in pieces of specifically Irish Catholicism into the film over generic priests and demons?
LEE CRONIN: Yeah, like it was something I thought a bit early on. I’ve often wondered that if, if the Catholic church knew of the Book of the Dead, they’d probably try and get their hands on and figure out what if it could be wielded in some way. And I based a lot of the mythology, if you want to call it that, in terms of or the backstory on, you know, my experience of Catholicism. Growing up in Ireland, so even the priests’ names, a couple of them are my local priests who were in my parish when I was growing up.
I just thought it was an interesting way to bring the backstory and also introduce more to the lore. The fact that someone in the real world is aware of the fact that there’s more one more than one book of the dead out there. So St. Patrick’s being Irish— and there are a few little Irish things sewn through the movie. If you look really closely at the keys, there’s a little leprechaun,
BUT WHY THO: Evil Dead movies are pretty short, is pacing out something so intensely difficult to do in that time? What’s your process behind that?
LEE CRONIN: The script was really tight, and I kind of ran through how that would appear on screen quite a lot. It was a very detailed screenplay and storyboarded the film. So also when you send storyboards, I could take those storyboards and turn them into animatics. And look at how the timing of a sequence might be. But the editing process is really where you find the proper internal pace of a story. And early cuts are obviously a little bit longer. I think the movie is 96 minutes, including the credits. I think the runtime is about 91 or 92 minutes in total. But we did have a 100-minute version of that movie also.
But you find your way to giving the best experience that you can, and I wanted it to be a film that people had to cling on to their armrests while they watched. I never wanted to allow people to think, slow down, or fall off. I want them to almost be with the characters just going through the mincer going through the machine. So that was driving the choices I made with pace.
Evil Dead Rise is in theaters now.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.