Exclusive Interview: Fede Alvarez Talks Don’t Breathe And Updates On Evil Dead

"Don't Breathe" screening during the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

It’s been three long years since Fede Alvarez rebooted Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise, which Raimi himself then parlayed into a successful Starz TV show. There was talk of a Raimi/Alvarez meet-up somewhere down the line, where Jane Levy’s character might team-up with or fight against Bruce Campbell’s Ash (not just in a cut-scene), but then those rumors stopped, and Alvarez started developing his own project. It’s had a few titles, between A Man In The Dark and Untitled Fede Alvarez Project, but, finally, at this year’s SXSW festival, Alvarez premiered the officially titled Don’t Breathe.

The film stars Stephen Lang as a blind veteran, who encounters three young criminals attempting to steal a large sum of money he’s currently hoarding. Things go south, a chase begins, and tension makes this film one hell of a thrilling escape. It will officially release this summer, but for an early taste, you can head over to my SXSW review!

Alvarez attended SXSW so he could personally introduce the film, which most people (including cast and crew) were seeing for the first time. Lucky for me, I was able to chat with the filmmaker after experiencing Don’t Breathe, which I’ve wanted to desperately do since loving every second of Evil Dead. He talked about his creative process, why he likes taking his time as an artist, and offered a brief update on his Evil Dead baby, which doesn’t look like much as of now.

We Got This Covered: When you introduced Don’t Breathe, you suggested that this feels like your first film because Evil Dead was a franchise reboot. This marks your first solo project as a filmmaker, both in story and direction, and you alluded to a personal connection with this film. Can you describe what that bond means to you?

Fede Alvarez: It’s personal because it’s hard to say Evil Dead was my film. It’s definitely something I wrote and directed, but I’m borrowing from a legacy of so many films, while standing on the shoulders of giants. This was going to a place I’d never been, to do my movie. There was a blank page in front of me. I could come up with a story, and get it done. This is truly MY movie.

The fact that it’s personal comes from the themes and ideas in the film. It’s not the facts of the movie [laughs] – I don’t like to harm people. It’s just the themes that surround these characters. The burdens of the past that you cannot escape. Like I said at the Q&A, it’s always about nostalgia, and the best times being behind us. The best times were the 50s and 60s, and we’ve just been drifting towards this darker and darker place – which is not true. That’s just what previous generations try to tell you.

The characters in this movie, they live in [Detroit] with a life they feel doesn’t belong to them. They feel that their fate has been written before they had a choice. That’s why I sympathized with them, and that’s why I wanted to create a story with themes from everyday life, even though we don’t see them as heroes in movies because we judge them right away.

Evil Dead had that to degree – I just love going towards those characters.

WGTC: I know being a filmmaker is a hectic lifestyle, but have you had a chance to see movies like The Witch and The Babadook?

Fede Alvarez: Of course, of course.

WGTC: So there’s this phenomenon in the horror genre right now where fans refuse to classify movies like The Witch as horror…

Fede Alvarez: Not horror?! C’mon, The Babadook is scary as fuck!

WGTC: Exactly! I disagree as well, but when I watch a movie like Don’t Breathe, which is terror by way of action thriller, I start to begin thinking about the backlash from fans who want easily classifiable cinema. Do you think Don’t Breathe will receive the same confusing remarks?

Fede Alvarez: I think the labels might be good when it comes to selling movies, when you want to get as many audiences into a theater – for what that’s worth – but it’s not a priority. The priority is to deliver a good film. Labels certainly don’t serve a film when you sit down and need to know exactly what a film is. I’d rather discover it while I’m watching it, right?