Nell Fisher plays an imperiled child in "Evil Dead Rise."
CNN  — 

Any franchise that can be kept alive on the cheap is especially hard to kill, and so it is with “Evil Dead Rise,” a Bruce Campbell-free (other than his producing role) addition to the horror staple. The movie was initially earmarked for streaming, and looks the part with its bare-bones story, although for those who just want to see buckets of blood and chainsaws, that’s probably enough to get the job done.

The main wrinkle, such as it is, involves moving the action from a remote cabin to a condemned high-rise apartment building, which happens to be situated over the site of an old bank. When an earthquake unconvincingly cracks open the ground, the requisite stupid teenager finds a certain book, unleashing the evil within despite all the obligatory warnings.

The unfortunate victims of said stupidity are the teen’s family and neighbors, beginning with his mother, Ellie (“Vikings’” Alyssa Sutherland), and her estranged sister Beth (Lily Sullivan), who has the extraordinarily bad timing to drop in unannounced right before all Hell literally breaks loose. Beth thus becomes the unlikely protector of her sister’s three kids, while escaping the building (minus a working cellphone or elevator) turns out to be an extremely daunting task.

Written and directed by Lee Cronin, the wit and humor that Campbell brought to past incarnations (including a Starz series revival) is in relatively short supply here. The film rather relies upon lots of jump scares and gruesome makeup effects, as well as the prospect of Ellie’s possessed form trying to do in her kids. That includes her very-young daughter (Nell Fisher), a semi-distasteful element even by the standards of the genre.

As noted, the film had originally been positioned as a direct-to-streaming offering, before distributor Warner Bros. (like CNN, part of Warner Bros. Discovery) made the logical decision to launch it in theaters, recognizing that horror has generally outperformed the market, especially in recent years.

With bigger summer fare on the way, “Evil Dead Rise” will be streaming soon enough, but by then the film should have gone a long way toward recouping the studio’s modest investment. While nothing here comes close (except perhaps that earthquake) to breaking any new ground, given that cold financial formula and its 40-plus-year history, one suspects the book won’t stay closed for long.

“Evil Dead Rise” premieres April 21 in US theaters. It’s rated R.