Warning! This article contains major spoilers for Evil Dead Rise. If you've yet to see the movie and don't want to know how it ends, then turn back now.
Evil Dead Rise's ending is so wild that its stars Lily Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland are still not entirely sure how they managed to film it. But that didn't stop them from trying to recall the blood-drenched experience in a new interview with Total Film and GamesRadar+...
"Did the body suit make it in? I don't really know which parts we did made it into the final cut," Sutherland joked during our recent chat. "We filmed some of it and then we had a nine-week lockdown, so things had to change with how we were filming it. All of a sudden we couldn't be on set with one another. So we did some scenes with a backpack with the kids beside me, then we did some of me in a backpack on my own and the kids separately. I still don't quite understand how we achieved it because I think, at that point, my brain just fully dissociated."
Sutherland's state of mind at the time of shooting is understandable: Evil Dead Rise's last act is a lot. After hours of being terrorized by her possessed sadistic sister Ellie (Sutherland), and seeing her niece Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and nephew Danny (Morgan Davies) succumb to the malevolent demon, Beth (Lily Sullivan) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) try to make a run for it.
In the corridor outside their apartment, the elevator remains busted and the stairs are still gone, so Beth tries to break down the door of '82' to reach the fire escape. When whacking the handle with a hammer doesn't work, she pries neighbor Mr. Fonda's shotgun out of his dead hand and goes to blast the door, but is interrupted when a shrieking Ellie zooms towards them. Beth turns and blows Ellie's left leg off.
Deadite Ellie tries to convince little Kassie to come back to her, but the youngster isn't having any of it. "You're not my mom anymore," she mutters, before Mr. Fonda reanimates and grabs Beth's ankle. In fright, Beth fires off the gun again; this time, shooting Ellie's arm off.
When the possessed versions of Bridget and Danny stumble into the hall, the other residents' bodies come back to "life" too, and all the deadites start chanting "dead by dawn, dead by dawn!" Beth and Kassie decide the elevator is their only option and rush into it, but as soon as the doors shut, it starts filling up with blood. Back in the hall, Bridget and Danny plunge their arms into their incapacitated mother – and the trio form a conjoined abomination before scampering off into the vents.
"Having to look at it, I wanted to be sick basically. At one point, the guys who built this bodysuit – she says backpack but it was a full torso by the way - it weighed like 70 pounds," recalls Sullivan. "But yeah, the guys who were supposed to operate this thing were locked out of the country. So we didn't have them to operate with limbs, and we ended up having to get these contortionists in to do certain scenes."
When the monster, which Cronin refers to as 'The Marauder' climbs on top of the elevator, it exceeds its weight limit and crashes to the lower level, allowing Beth and Kassie to flee into the parking lot. Beth gets free but the Marauder captures Kassie and tries to behead her with a chainsaw, so Beth returns and shoots it, luring it towards her, in front of Fonda's woodchipper. After a bit of a struggle, Beth gets a hold of the chainsaw and forces the Marauder's body into the chipper, leaving only Ellie's decapitated head. Bodiless Ellie taunts Beth still, telling her that she'll fail as a mother, just like the sisters' own one did, prompting her to kick the head into the chipper, killing her once and for all.
"The contortionists were pulled up on a harness so they could float while making this thing move and follow me around the car with Nell," says Sullivan. "It was just gross, and they had skin replicas of the kids' faces for scenes where people couldn't be there. There were so many layers to complete this entity. It was like someone had put the flesh of the children on and I would just be looking at their little eye holes and seeing other people with their faces. Alyssa had a prosthetic head of Ellie built too, so I was looking at this floppy head sometimes. It was the most cooked thing ever. And then sometimes Alyssa would be in the suit; it was all insane. The craziest monster I've ever seen…"
For writer-director Lee Cronin though, the Marauder is much more than just a monster. Much like how Fede Álvarez's Evil Dead culminates in drug addict Mia (Jane Levy) standing off against her demonic doppelgänger, Evil Dead Rise's conclusion symbolizes Beth's own personal anxieties.
"In Beth, you've got a character who is unsure about whether she can be a mother or start a family – and that's a justified concern for lots of people," the filmmaker tells us. "There's a little bit of my own fears about if I ever want to be a parent in her; there's a bit of me in Beth. She returns home to taste family life again and see if it's the right thing to do, and then 'family' gets completely perverted. She's presented with the darkest side and yet has to stand up and try to be a mother somehow.
"The Marauder's not by accident. The creation of it was inspired by friends and others I've seen who are going through the wringer as parents when they've got young kids – some friends are literally hating life, but they want to have a family. There's the old idea, you know, that your children will be there for you when you're old and you can't walk and you're lame," Cronin adds. "That's kind of what happens in this. Ellie loses the ability to continue attacking and her kids come and raise her up and turn into this thing. Imagine that thing hugging you, I always joke it'd be the worst family hug and to me it was, 'how can I create the most grotesque vision of family possible?'
"It shines a light on the idea of, say, how family may become too much. I adore my family. I adore my nieces and nephews," he says. "I make my movies just to show off to them and make them proud; that's the most important thing to me in the world. But also family can be a terrifying prospect."
Evil Dead Rise is in UK and US cinemas now. For more on the movie, check out our more in-depth chat with Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan or our spoiler-free conversation with Lee Cronin.