Dublin People

Homecoming screening for horror master Lee Cronin

Dublin has contributed a fair share of greats to the world of cinema from the likes of leading men like Colin Farrell and Gabriel Byrne, esteemed directors like Jim Sheridan and Lenny Abrahamson and Oscar winners like Brenda Fricker and Barry Fitzgerald.

Dublin writer and director Lee Cronin may well find himself enjoying the same accolades and acclaim following the smash success of his film Evil Dead Rise, the latest installment in the beloved horror franchise.

Cronin first came to horror fans’ attention with his 2019 effort Hole In The Ground, and his work on the film led to him being hand-picked by franchise creator Sam Raimi to direct a new film in the Evil Dead series.

Evil Dead Rise was originally touted to debut on HBO Max in the United States, but a last-minute change of heart saw it released in cinemas, and the decision was rewarded with a box office haul of nearly $150 million dollars worldwide.

At a packed screening in Rathmines on National Cinema Day, the crowd reaction is a sure sign that the film going straight to streaming would have been a crying shame.

Cronin diligently signed copies of the film, posed for photos and shared tidbits about his latest project with fans at the Cineworld in Rathmines.

Cronin’s next project, Thaw, was announced prior to the release of Evil Dead Rise, but Cronin admitted “that old strike business” has put the project on hold for now.

Introducing the film, Cronin said it was a “dream” to walk 20 minutes from his flat to introduce the film to a sold-out Dublin audience.

Cronin discussed how the film was made in New Zealand during the pandemic, and getting to screen the film on home turf was “the cherry on the cake.”

Dressed in an impeccable leather jacket but not losing a trace of his Dublin accent, the Skerries man shouted out some of the crew who worked on the movie and it’s blood-splattered effects.

“We have a few people who worked on the film here with us tonight,” he said, but teased “I won’t give away what parts are theirs.”

The horror community is notoriously loyal and supportive of the genre, and outside the screening, horror fan Luke told us that this was his fourth time seeing the film in a cinema setting.

“I saw this three times in the cinema, and when I saw it was back in cinemas again I couldn’t turn down the chance.”

Luke said he loved Cronin’s previous film Hole In The Ground, and enjoyed Evil Dead Rise, albeit with some reservations.

“I think it’s the weakest film in the Evil Dead franchise – but to be fair that’s a very high bar to clear. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 like 30 times, man.”

College graduate Alex said he brought his blu-ray copy of the movie with him for Cronin to sign, and said he was excited to meet him.

“I just think it’s so cool that he did the big Hollywood premiere thing, it was a huge hit around the world, but he’s happy to come and do a screening here in Dublin with the fans. I think that’s a really sound thing of him to do.”

Alex, who studied cinematography as part of his college studies, said he really admired the film’s practical effects.

“Nowadays in horror there’s too much of a reliance on jump scares,” he said, pointing to a poster for an upcoming film in the Conjuring franchise, “with Evil Dead it’s just good old-fashioned blood and guts.”

The screening itself had to restart three separate times owing to problems with the file the film was being projected on, and yet it was oddly fitting that a screening of an Evil Dead film suffered technical issues.

To our knowledge, no one read from the Necronomicon prior to the screening, and we are pleased to report that Bruce Campbell did not have to be drafted in to take care of the problem.

Instead, the film received a rapturous reception from the gathered Saturday night crowd.

Prior to the film, Cronin asked for a show of hands of how many people had not seen the film before, which led to half of the audience raising their hands.

“Right, and still keeping those hands up, how many here like horror movies?”

Some people elected to lower their hands.

“What I’ll say to you folks who put down your hand, I hope you have some good whiskey waiting for you when you get home to take the edge off!”

The communal aspect of seeing a horror film is at its best with Evil Dead Rise, with the now infamous cheese grater scene provoking a reaction in the audience somewhere between being on Hill 16 on All-Ireland final day and genuine shock.

As the crowd filed out into the humid Saturday night, a man is heard remarking to an accomplice “jaysus, lot of blood in that one, wasn’t there?”

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