‘Evil Dead’ director talks about success of horror remake

Fede Alvarez sits next to his Evil Dead poster at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix. The movie is scheduled to come out in early April of this year. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

Fede Alvarez sits next to his Evil Dead poster at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix. The movie is scheduled to come out in early April of this year. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

The “Evil Dead,” a remake written and directed by Fede Alvarez, approaches a new narrative direction for the franchise. The film introduces a bevy of young actresses and actors including Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez. It will be released April 5.

The State Press got a chance to speak with Alvarez about his film and the state of horror remakes in the 21st century.

The State Press: Horror remakes are usually met with poor or mediocre reception, but Evil Dead, so far, has met with high critic and fan praise. In your personal opinion, why do you think the remakes of “The Thing” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” didn’t appease fans and critics?

Fede Alvarez: I would love to say that this is better because I’m a genius, (laughs) but it’s not that. Most of those movies are made through a system where you have five or six different writers trying to get a story off the ground, and most of the times, for a writer, it’s just a job. Usually, none of the original creators of the films will be involved; it will be a completely new group of people behind the movie.

But “Evil Dead,” because it’s one of those big titles in horror that strangely were still owned by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. They stayed to the last minute of production. It’s made completely independently. I think that’s why Sam Raimi chose me, because I was so far from the studio system coming from Uruguay.

SP: Before the original “Evil Dead” theatrical release, the movie was hit with an NC-17 rating, and the same happened with the remake. Did this sort of please you as a director? Thinking that “OK, we’re following in the footsteps of the original; this is good.”

FA: When we were writing it, we tried not to think too much about the rating. The MPAA was really helpful. Sometimes they can be terrible, and they drive you mad. They give you an NC-17, and you ask “What should I change?” and they reply, “I don’t know; figure it out.” Something is bothering them, and they’re never going to tell you. But this time, these guys were really helpful.

They were very precise about what the moments were that bothered them. But they never ask us to get rid of anything. They just ask us to cut it in a way to not overexpose a thing just for the sake of overexposure. That ended up being a better cut. I’m happy that we were able to get the R rating without changing too much from the NC-17 version. This is definitely the hardest R-rated movie by far.

SP: Jane Levy gives a great performance as Mia, and when I looked up her acting profile, it said she did a TV series and a Nickelodeon movie. What made her the optimal choice to play this character?

FA: When I casted her, I didn’t really know what else she had done in the past. She was just the best person who read for us out of many actresses. Every young actress in Hollywood was trying to get this role, and she was by far the best one. She was a very humble actress as well because she would apologize if she read … a line incorrectly. We (are) really trying to show the world how we can make a good film, and that’s very important because some directors lose that edge, you know? They make one or two good films, and then they don’t care anymore. And for us, nobody could say, “Aw, it’s just a movie” it’s our lives. So Jane was just like that. Otherwise it would have been impossible to do the things she did. She was 100 percent committed to the role.

 

Reach the reporter at shfawcet@asu.edu and follow him on Twitter @MaroonandGamer