No./5 Why we need Sam Raimi directing horror again
Empire’s resident Sam Raimi superfan Chris Hewitt rejoices that the filmmaker is back where he belongs: directing horror
RECENTLY, ON A trailer for the latest remake of The Grudge, my heart soared. For early on, a title card proclaimed, “FROM SAM RAIMI”. Three words guaranteed to perk me right up. Three words we haven’t seen enough recently. Which is possibly why they were followed by another title card, one that made my heart sink: “A PRODUCER OF DON’T BREATHE AND EVIL DEAD”.
No. No to the power of max, in fact. Sam Raimi is not just a producer. He is one of the most successful directors around, able to flit between big-scale blockbusters such as the original Spider-man trilogy, and lo-fi horrors like the original Evil Dead, and its sequels. Yet you’d be easily forgiven for forgetting that. After all, it’s been six years and counting since his last movie, Oz The Great And Powerful. Since then, largely radio silence. It’s not as if he’s been in movie jail (Oz made almost $500 million; franchises have been founded on movies that made much less). But nothing since 2013, meaning that the gap on his
CV has steadily become Kubrickian. Which might be why audiences need a big card explaining who he is.
Soon, though, they won’t need to. For Raimi is finally returning to his day job, at the helm of an as-yet untitled horror movie that has been described as a cross between Misery and Cast Away. And, in my corner of the universe at least, there was much rejoicing. Sam Raimi is a born film director — a visually inventive type, who can do things with a camera that make other directors look like they’re working in radio — and his particular set of skills is very well suited to horror. See The Evil Dead trilogy and the utterly barmy but brilliant Drag Me To Hell for details.
He’s been away for so long that it’s easy to forget his influence on horror. Upstart talent like Jordan
Peele and Ari Aster have redefined the genre in recent years. Raimi — now its elder statesman — is almost in danger of being written off as too old-school. But if there’s a place for him in the current landscape, it’s to remind us all that he was one of the original innovators, a director who — like Peele and Aster — stretched the boundaries of the form. Here’s hoping the last few years away will have sharpened his appetite for showing off what he can do.
Clockwise from top left: Raimi’s roster: Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead (1981); Lorna Raver in Drag Me To Hell (2009); Raimi on set of Spiderman (2002); More Raver scares in Drag Me To Hell.