It’s a very rare occasion when you get to see a remake that’s actually worth your time. Even rarer is finding a horror film remake that’s worth your time. The hard part is trying to balance honoring the tone of the previous film while trying to not be a complete copy. One of these was the remake of Sam Raimi’s modern classic Evil Dead. I remember hearing about this and being extremely skeptical. How could someone take was Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell created and re-tread it without feeling like a cynical cash grab? Thankfully, the new crew who made this had the guidance of the old crew and I honestly think the film succeeds in being it’s own thing. Today I listened to the film’s commentary (participants include director Fede Alvarez, writer Rodo Sayagues, actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Jessica Lucas) and here are some of the more entertaining anecdotes from the track.
-The Ambiguity of the Opening-
In the opening we see a teenager (Phoenix Connolly) stumbling through the woods before being abducted. Fede states that he wanted to keep shots of her quick and vague in order to not tip his hat the audience that she was already possessed.
-Sirens in the Soundtrack-
Fede told the entire crew that their contribution to the film should have some kind of signature idea to it. Composer Roque Banos used sirens to insight tension in the soundtrack after running out of ideas initially. It definitely gives the film a much creepier vibe.
-Getting the Dog to Stay in Shot-
When Mia is sitting on the dilapidated 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 (The Classic) the dog only approached her in the shot because Levy had treats in her hoodie pocket. If you look closely you can see the dog nosing around the pocket to grab these treats.
There was going to be a scene of David getting scared by a cat (the lucky one to survive what happened in the cellar during the opening) while walking down the hallway in the cabin. Fede cut this scare and many like it because he wanted to avoid cheap scares that were unrelated to the plot.
Actor Lou Taylor Pucci and Fede are both amateur magicians. They were bored on the set one day doing slight of hand card tricks. Lou impressed Fede with his trick and that’s one of the reasons you can see Eric playing with a deck of cards in the film. The other reason was it being an homage to the original film.
-Crows to Cats-
The dead cats found hanging in the basement were suppose to be crows. It was changed after everyone agreed that crows were too cliche for a horror film.
-Dressing up the Book-
The book was originally going to be found in the basement on it’s own. They added the trash bag and barbed wire to give it a more significant reveal.
-The Vine Scene-
Fede and Rodo both were against using the iconic vine scene in the film fearing they were mining too much from the original. It was producer Rob Tapert who encouraged them to put the scene back into the film.
-The Hardest Scene to Write-
According to Rodo he had the hardest time trying to write the scene where Mia vomits blood all over Olivia. The reason being he had no idea what kind of reaction a person would actually have after being covered in blood vomit.
-Extending the Bathroom Scene-
The fight between Eric and Olivia was suppose to end after she cracked her head on the sink. Sam Raimi asked Fede to extend the scene to add more terror to the film.
-One of Raimi’s Rules-
Apparently Sam Raimi has “The Three Rules of Horror”. Fede only reveals one of these rules, “The innocent must be punished.”
-Natalie’s Time in the Cellar-
Fede specifically wanted show what happened to Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) in the cellar to go against horror expectations. Instead of cutting away after she was pulled into the cellar he wanted the audience to experience what Natalie was going through.
-Winks to the Original-
There are plenty of references throughout the film to the 1981 counterpart. One of the best is a drawing in the book that has the same layout as the original poster.
-Reversing the Roles-
Aside from trying to avoid drawing comparisons to the iconic character Ash there was another reason Mia ended up the last person standing instead of David. Fede and Rodo set up David abandoning Mia to make his character undeserving of redemption at the end of the film. It also meant Mia became the only character worthy of survival.
The end credits were designed to act as a highlight reel of all the insanity that took place in the previous ninety minutes. It was done in case audience members recoiled and missed any of the horror moments in the film.
These are just a handful of the fun moments from the commentary, but there’s a lot of other great stuff. Fede talks at length the levels the crew went through to avoid using CGI. It’s definitely worth the listen. As usual, what are your thoughts? Have you seen the Evil Dead remake? Or are you someone who avoids horror remakes at all costs? Have you listened to any commentaries recently? As always, thanks for reading.
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