Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing season three of the horror/comedy television show Ash vs. Evil Dead(2018). To best describe the story, I will turn to the Rotten Tomatoes summary:
“Ash’s status in Elk Grove, Michigan has changed from murderous urban legend to humanity-saving hometown hero. When Kelly witnesses a televised massacre with Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns with a new friend to warn Ash and Pablo that evil isn’t done with them yet.”
This first bit is for the uninitiated: those seeking bloody fun with raunchy humor need look no further; Ash is here to provide that fix. He delivers punchlines nearly as fast as he mows down the possessed with his chainsaw hand. The pacing is frenetic, with plenty of bloody good set pieces to keep even the hardest to impress critics entertained.
What makes the ridiculously violent sequences so entertaining is the seeming reliance upon keeping the effects practical. That is right, the vast majority of the skull crushing action appears to be done without the aid of computers, creating a realistically cartoonish violence that pushes the boundaries of good taste to achieve a laugh. The look feels very in line with the previous entries in the series, but with slicker production values than its forbears.
In fact, there are plenty of references back to the original trilogy that are sure to please the longtime fans of Ash Williams. Whether it be the recreation of the demon’s POV shot or the time travel references to the third entry, there are plenty of nods to what came before. At the same time, they layer in so many new, ridiculous things that even those with no previous knowledge of the franchise can jump on board and join in on the deadite slaying fun.
Now it would not be a proper review of the series if I did not take a moment to talk about Ash. For those not in the know, Bruce Campbell has been playing the role of Ash Williams for over thirty five years. In that time, they have allowed the character to grow older, but certainly not wiser. Three decades after his first appearance, our lead still bumbles his way through his adventures, though now his aging body is just as much of a hindrance as his none too bright mind. It is an absolute joy to see Campbell stumble through his adventures with such brilliant comic timing even after all these years. Honestly, he has become so iconic in this role that it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else but him taking on the undead with such gleeful abandon.
With that being said, they actually took some steps towards deepening the character of Ash this season. There are moments where he truly grapples with his status as a savior and the cost that it has had upon his life. While there have been shades of this in earlier seasons (particularly season one), it is given a different context this go round as Ash is forced to grow up a bit.
Putting Ash aside for a moment, the supporting cast manages to be just as entertaining as our lead. Whether it be the cool interplay between Pablo and Kelly or the over the top machinations of Ruby, there is a lot to love about the secondary players. Even the new character, Brandy, manages to make a good impression in her one season and I wish that we were able to spend more time getting to know her.
Of course, more time is the key phrase in that last sentence. As of this writing, the series has been cancelled and Bruce Campbell has retired from playing Ash. With over thirty five years of continuity on the table one has to ask, was the series finale fitting? Well, it all depends upon perspective, I guess. To me, the ending felt right in line with the second movie’s last scene while having a much more upbeat swing. The show drove off into the sunset at full throttle and left me feeling satisfied, though still wanting so much more.
All in all, this show is a true love letter to the fans that has plenty to entertain those who do not know all of the ins and outs of the series. The cast is incredibly solid and the special effects bring the comedy to blood spattering life. Fans of The Evil Dead series or films like Re-Animator (1985) are sure to enjoy every crimson soaked frame of this balls to the wall horror/comedy.
Ash vs. Evil Dead: Season 3 is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.
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