After sitting through an hour and a half-long movie and 10 minutes of a post-screening Q&A, one spectator at the world premiere of “Evil Dead Rise” decided he had finally had enough.
The man was approached by South by Southwest venue staff after falling asleep with his legs propped up and yelled something unintelligible in response. When the room went silent to hear him out, he shouted, “This movie fucking sucks!” and threw an empty bucket of popcorn into the air.
The audience immediately erupted into a chorus of boos. As the heckler stormed out of his balcony seat, they quieted, offering scattered applause — until original “Evil Dead” star and current executive producer Bruce Campbell got involved.
“What are you doing here? Get the fuck out of here!” he said, inciting raucous cheers that almost rivaled the crowd’s reaction to the film itself. Added producer Rob Tapert, “I don’t get it. He waited all the way through the credits!” to wide laughter.
SXSW Film and TV programmer Peter Hall, who was moderating the panel, said, “That asshole aside, I think we can all agree that this movie actually really fucking rules.” And just like that, after another round of cheering, the moment had passed.
Unwelcome as it was, the interruption was almost fitting for a night like this. It’s been a full decade since the most recent installment of the cult franchise that is “Evil Dead,” and upon finally receiving a fifth movie, fans were ready to rally. Hardly a sentence of the Q&A without audible celebration, and the same was true during the film. “I’ve been doing South By for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of movies in this theater — I have never seen an audience that insane,” Hall noted — before the heckling even happened.
Of course, that was derived from the cast and crew’s dedication to the goriest film they could pull off.
Lily Sullivan, who stars as Beth, described spending 20 pages of the script “covered in blood, the most sticky-icky, disgusting, six-month-old [substance], because it was COVID and we ran out of blood in New Zealand because they couldn’t import it. So that batch that you saw was six months old. They’d be like, ‘Lil, this’ll do, yeah?’ So I had old, stanky brew, not like a fine wine.”
“I come from the world of fashion, where they do even more fucked up shit to you,” joked Alyssa Sutherland, who plays Ellie and is also known for her work as a model.
Director Lee Cronin closed the night by reflecting on how young people might receive “Evil Dead Rise,” having not been around when executive producer Sam Raimi first created the characters in the late ’70s and put them on screen in the early ’80s.
“I’m very proud of getting to be additive to what the guys created in the past, but also to forge new paths,” he said. “As I’ve said many times, I’m a fan and I want the fans to be happy, I want them to feel the DNA of an ‘Evil Dead’ movie, but I also want there to be people that feel like I did when I was nine years old. I think getting to add to that legacy and hopefully bring through a new generation will allow for this type of story to continue being made.”
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