Geek Exclusive: Alyssa Sutherland & Lily Sullivan Talk  Demons & Popcorn Moments On Set Of ‘Evil Dead Rise’

If there’s one thing Australian actress Alyssa Sutherland is good at, it’s playing the mother that audiences love to hate. The Vikings actress first gained mainstream fame as Queen Aslaug in Michael Hirst’s hit historical drama and despite being disliked in the series, Sutherland’s Aslaug was highly praised for being a loving and devoted mother to her children.

It’s the slight opposite here though, as Sutherland’s Ellie in Evil Dead Rise is preying on her family.

A soon-to-be single mother, Ellie lives in a tiny Los Angeles apartment with her three children while making a living as a tattoo artist. But her cool mom persona, of supporting her children’s interests in music, attending protests and decapitating dolls soon takes a turn for the worst, when Ellie gets possessed by an evil demon, and turns into a deadite.

In this sequel to Sam Raimi’s beloved The Evil Dead franchise, Ellie becomes the first victim of the Book of the Dead and switches from becoming the devoted mother her family knows her for, to a walking nightmare. She calls her children titty-sucking parasites and taunts about killing them, which is a far cry from the eccentric but close family we see at the beginning. Granted, she’s no mother of the year in either persona, but Sutherland definitely earns a few screams for her scary performance that she spent time developing.

“It was so much fun creating her and the deadite version of Ellie! I did a lot of work on deadite movement and I had a playlist that I put together, and I would sort of move around my hotel room and created this deadite movement and a muscle memory for that, so that it would click in for me on set,” said Sutherland in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture.

“It was like being in a flow state to have like the deadite movement and the little twitches and everything. That was the basis of the character and from that, it was just sort of feeling free and comfortable to try whatever I wanted to try.” 

Sutherland’s playlist included a lot of angsty music from bands like Massive Attack and Puscifer but before you go looking up for the tracks on Spotify, the 40 year old actress prefaces that the specific remixes she listens to is hard to find. 

“The song is.. it’s Rev 22-20 or something but it’s like a different version of that song – not the original version! It’s really hard to find. It took me a moment to find it… I forget what mix it is,” Sutherland said. 

Starring alongside Sutherland is also up and coming fellow Australian actress, Lily Sullivan who plays Ellie’s younger, estranged sister, Beth, who is not a maternal figure but a single woman who works on the road as a music technician. Beth is irresponsible and is often absent in Ellie’s life, only showing up whenever she requires help and advice. But when Ellie becomes a deadite, Beth finds herself assuming the maternal role and attempts to protect Ellie’s children from being murdered by their own demon-possessed mother. 

“It’s ridiculous and I potentially have to take responsibilities… I never thought this would be my version of motherhood, God damn it!,” joked Sullivan in the same exclusive interview. 

“I mean Beth was so fun to play. There’s a journey there that even though it’s fight or flight fear zone, by the end she becomes full animal, full primal, mirroring her sister in a way that like all of us have, an inner demon inside us. Demon of light or the demon of protection.” 

Sutherland can’t help but agree that motherhood is “pretty primal”, though the only time the actress was primal in the film was when she was out to gut her sister and manipulate her children into a violent death. As with deadites,  Ellie goes through some serious body transformation, where her body bends and contorts, as her skin turns pale. In fact, she’s got incredible strength, speed and endurance and we  see Ellie crawling on walls a few times though sadly, not all the stunts are performed by Sutherland. 

And if there was one stunt that she wished she tackled, it would have been the iconic gravity-defying wall climb said an enthusiastic Sutherland. 

“You have to learn it and do it safely. It does take a lot of time. That was probably the only one that I didn’t get, at all, a piece of. That was the one I really wanted to do,” shared Sutherland. 

While Sullivan didn’t have many stunts to carry out, she did enjoy the process of watching Sutherland and her stunt double on set. 

“It was so fun because I’m sitting there and it’s like actually happening. There was just this level of like… even the crew everyone was like ‘Oh my god!’… Like just popcorn moment while watching the live monitor, which is really fun… like ‘It’s behind you!’,” shared an eager Sullivan.

Evil Dead Rise premieres in cinemas on 20 April 2023.