Exclusive Modern Masters of Horror Interview Series: Fede Alvarez on Evil Dead

DC: How do you structure your ideas when you’re faced with a blank page? Where do you start when you’re writing a movie?

FA: I wrote this first Evil Dead movie with Rodo Sayagues, we’ve been friends since we were 12. And we’re movie buffs, we watched so many movies growing up. When we were teenagers we watched movies all the time.

I’m part of a big group of friends where we used to not go out at night on Friday nights, when everyone was going out and meeting girls. We would just rent three, four movies and have discussions. So that’s where I’m coming from. We were movie geeks, like big time. We’re always discussing movies; we’re always discussing stories. Every time we watch a movie, we talk and talk about it, and we can go on for hours.

So every new movie will start just the same way, it’s just Rodo and I discussing [things like] ‘ok what will be the scariest thing we can do with five friends in a cabin.’ The first thing we do is just spot everything we hate about these movies and get rid of those things. So basically we start with the things that we don’t like, because we want to make sure that we don’t include any of those.

DC: What practical elements do you keep in mind when you’re writing a script? Do you think about camera angles, budget, or any other logistics at all?

FA: When we’re writing? None. We wrote Evil Dead being almost 100% sure that we were never going to do it. For some reason that made us write from the best possible place, which is just for the sake of writing the best movie you could. We were completely detached from the movie-making itself. We’re just thinking about the magic story. What’s going to happen to these five characters that we just created? Where are they going to go? What is going to be the scariest story to witness in that setting? ...We wrote it just as a script and not as a movie; we wrote it as a story. And I think that helped us a lot.

DC: Even though you have a great deal of experience with digital effects, as I understand it, all of the effects in Evil Dead were practical. How do you go about deciding whether an effect should be created digitally or practically?

FA: CGI works when you are creating something that doesn’t already exist in real life. If I show you a CG dog it f-ing sucks because you know how a dog looks for real, it doesn’t look like that, so it sucks usually. But if you create a blue tall alien, like in Avatar, I cannot complain about it because I don’t know how that guy looks in real life.

DC: What are some of the more practical things that you have learned working on your first big budget picture?

FA: This is the biggest challenge for everybody, is making your first film. You’re on set, it’s your first film, and probably everybody on that set made more films than you did, that’s a fact. The script supervisor made 10 films, your DP made 15 films, even the guy from the art department, even the PA has been involved in more films that you have because it’s your first film. When you’re a first time filmmaker, and you’re on a set, where you’re the boss but everyone has made more films than you, it’s a very, very tricky thing because what you have to strike there is a balance between how much do I listen to everybody and how much do I say ‘no this is the way we have to do it.’

You have to trust your voice a lot. You have to be convinced that about the way you want to do things. There is a reason why you are a director and you have to believe in that and believe in yourself and go for it. Otherwise you will crumble pretty fast.

Read our Evil Dead review here!

A core cast of young, fresh talent includes Jane Levy ("Suburgatory") as Mia; Shiloh Fernandez (Deadgirl, Red Riding Hood) as David; Lou Taylor Pucci (Carriers) as Eric; Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield) as Olivia; and Elizabeth Blackmore (Legend of the Seeker) as Natalie.

In the much anticipated remake of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.

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