After scaring audiences half to death in her horror/thrillers “Evil Dead” and “Don’t Breathe,” actress Jane Levy changes gears to star in the family-friendly adventure film “Monster Trucks.” In the movie, Tripp (Lucas Till), a mechanically-savvy high school senior, is stunned to learn that a monster truck he has built from scratch has become inhabited by a subterranean creature that is able to run the vehicle without a motor.
Levy, 27, plays Meredith, Tripp’s friend, tutor and love interest, who helps Tripp escape the dastardly plans of a local oil and gas company called Terravex.
During my interview with Levy, we talked about moving from horror to family fare, original movie ideas and how she feels when one of her movie—like “Monster Trucks”—takes a bit longer for studios to release.
The two films you’re mostly known for in your young career are “Don’t Breathe” and the remake of “Evil Dead.” What has the experience been like switching gears to a family film like this?
Every project is different. I have made two horror movies, but I have also made a bunch of other movies. I don’t mean that…It kind of sounded like I was angry at your question, but I’m not at all. Every movie is different and every genre is different. To me, it’s just the job—playing characters and existing in different worlds.
You have, of course, been in other film besides the two horror movies—mostly independent films. Is there one you can point to that you’re especially proud of that maybe some of your fans missed?
There is a movie on Netflix—I think it’s still on Netflix—called “Frank and Cindy” that I had a lot of fun making. It was a charming and weird movie that I like. Not many people have seen it.
In the age we live right now where audiences are getting countless remakes and reboots and sequels, do you think it’s important that an original idea like “Monster Trucks” get a chance to build something from scratch?
Yeah, sure. I think you’re right.
I mean, are you a fan of original ideas? A couple of years ago, there was a really great Tom Cruise movie that came out called “Edge of Tomorrow” that nobody saw because nobody recognized what it was.
The box office numbers—I don’t really think about that so much. I saw “Edge of Tomorrow.” I really liked it. I didn’t know nobody saw it. I definitely support original ideas and would champion for that. I also do enjoy some of the remakes that are being made.
Right. I mean, you were in a solid one yourself with “Evil Dead.”
Yeah, [Fede Alvarez] was a great director. [Remakes] are hit or miss, some of them.
You actually shot “Monster Trucks” a couple of years ago. As an actress, do you keep tabs on what is happening with a movie’s release or do you forget about it and sort of trust in the process?
Every movie is different. Some movies you make and they come out really quickly. Some take longer. It’s a funny experience because when you’re making it, you’re so involved and it’s like the center of your world. It’s your main focus for weeks, sometimes months. And then you don’t see it or hear anything about it sometimes for a couple of years. I don’t even really know how to describe it, but [acting] is a very funny job in that way.
What would you do in real life if you actually owned one of those monster trucks?
(Laughs) What would I do in real life? I don’t know. I guess I would just try to get somewhere really, really fast.
What do you drive now?
I actually have an Audi e-tron—half electric.
Too small for a monster to fit under the hood, I’m assuming?
Yeah, I don’t think so.
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Directed by: Fede Alvarez (debut)
Written by: Fede Alvarez (debut)
If you walk out of the remake of “Evil Dead” and actual think Sam Raimi’s original film was better, there is a cult-classic bias in you that can never be exorcised. Simply put: Raimi’s “Evil Dead” is so 1981. First-time feature director Fede Alvarez’s take is fresh and fiendishly entertaining.
Okay, we jest…to a point. Raimi’s original film, of course, will forever be considered a cult favorite by fans of the horror genre and deservingly so. The campy feel of it – even more today – is ridiculously amusing. But Alvarez, who has never made a feature-length film before in his life, takes Raimi’s framework and builds something even more gruesome and throws in a nastier streak that would never have made it past the censors 30 years ago. If you liked the sometimes unintentional humor of the first one, there’s not much of that in its successor. There’s no room for laughter, anyway, when so much blood is spewing all over.
That’s not to say graphic horror remakes these days have an impressive track record when it comes to impaling body parts in excess. Things like “Black Christmas” in 2006, “My Blood Valentine” in 2009, and Rob Zombie’s version of the “Halloween” franchise are a very small handful of horror movies that didn’t get it right. Despite it not being very scary at all, Alvarez’s “Evil Dead,” however, gets fewer things wrong and has a blast doing it.
Like the 1981 movie, the reincarnated “Evil Dead” follows a group of young friends into the wood where they shack up in a remote cabin. Instead of camping, however, the characters in the new flick are having a rehab session for Mia (Jane Levy), a friend who has decided she wants to kick her drug habit cold turkey. But when her friends run across a barbwire-bounded Book of the Dead in the cellar, left over from some satanic ritual, Mia and her cohorts, including her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and their friends Eric (Lou Tatylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), have a lot more to worry about than Mia’s manic withdrawals. She’s not vomiting blood because she needs a fix. She’s got a demon inside her.
Relying more on good old-fashioned special effects than those of the CGI brand, the new “Evil Dead” never feels fake (although a creepy female victim from the book’s past shows up in the first half and almost ruins it). With Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell, who we all know as Ash in the franchise, on board as producers, the re-visioning of “Evil Dead” is about as much fun as watching someone get shot in the face with a nail gun. Gauge your threshold for gore on your reaction to that last sentence and you should know whether or not you have the stomach for it.
“Evil Dead” was screened at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival.