How are you? You had a big night last night.

I did. I’m doing good. My head is still spinning because it was a lot of anticipation and buildup to bring this movie to the big screen, and to premiere here in Austin. So, I’m doing good. I’m feeling happy. I think as a filmmaker, trying to make a movie that has been born to entertain, to shock, to scare, and to thrill, I feel like we got that reaction last night from the audience in the Paramount Theater.

I would say so. I was telling Lily and Alyssa during our interview, I’ve been to a lot of good premieres in that theater. I saw the world premiere of “A Quiet Place.” Last night was something else entirely. People were in it.

Yeah, it was a great night for everybody and to have some of the team here and obviously Sam [Raimi], Rob [Tapert], and Bruce [Campbell], and the wonderful cast, and just to bring everyone together because we never really got to celebrate this movie at the end. We finished it during a Covid lockdown in New Zealand, and all just had to walk our separate ways. So for this to be the payoff for the journey last night was something really special.

You mentioned Sam. Let’s start at the beginning of the journey here. Sam Raimi comes to you and says, “Hey, Lee, you want to make an ‘Evil Dead’ movie?” What’s that like?

It was a great conversation. It was a lunch that we had in L.A. just after I’d finished making “The Hole in the Ground” and Sam had seen it and we talked about everything but “Evil Dead” during the lunch until I just kind of said, “Look, I’m a fan so I kind of want to just go, ‘Hey, what’s up with Evil Dead?'” Because I knew it’d been like 10 years at that point, in terms of the movies. And Sam was like, “You’re an Evil Dead fan?” I’m like, “I’m a massive Evil Dead fan.” And the conversation kind of rolled from there. It started from there.

What’s interesting about the movie is, in an era of franchise storytelling, so many people in interviews will be like, “Well, I really want this to be a fresh entry point for new fans, but also honor what came before.” That’s easy to say, but hard to do. You 100% did that.

Thank you.

You could never know a thing about “Evil Dead” going to this movie. It’s a hell of a horror movie. But there’s so much reverence for what came before. How on Earth do you weave that web?

I’m really, really thankful for those comments. And it was an intent. The fact that we got the intent right and I was able to steer that ship in the right way — I went after the story and the characters first. I hunted down those personalities. I hunted down the themes and the metaphors before I actually then went and looked at the horror. Now of course, in my brain, I was boiling ideas all the time, but I didn’t let myself go there until I just had cracked into those people. I think it’s the Zucker Brothers, and they talk about when they were writing movies like “Airplane!” back in the day, it was like, “Get the story right, and then work on the jokes, work on the gags thereafter.”

Horror and comedy are similar in that way.

Absolutely. I wanted it to be something that felt fresh, and just nailing those characters early so that people have a familiarity with them, they grow to like them. They’re also super aware that bad things are going to happen. They know it’s not going to stay happy families or medium-happy families, it’s going to turn into something else. That was probably the trickiest balancing act of all, was bringing the character and the gore together, but also doing it in a way that was accessible to a new audience. I think this is one of the things that will surprise people when they watch this movie, even more than the trailer suggests: It is actually super accessible and you can step into that world and just have a good time. And get the pants scared off you, of course.