Since her break out debut movie JUNO hit big on the Awards circuit back in '07, screenwriter Diablo Cody has since had to endure overwhelming criticism from the furiously vocal internet community. Usually it takes years for a backlash to develop, just ask one-time 'can-do-no-wrongs' Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. Each of those guys at least had a fair few films under their belt before anyone decided they needed to be knocked down a peg or two, and although the haters seem not to have swayed Tarantino in the slightest, Smith has practically rethought his entire career as a direct result. But what did Cody do to deserve such word bile thrown her way? One movie out of the gate and people were already out to destroy her. It's no coincidence I chose those other names as examples. Both have very distinctive writing styles, most noticeably when it comes to their dialogue. They have a voice. Their movies sound like their movies. (I'd use the word auteur here but I don't want to sound like a knob). The same goes for Cody. Put people didn't like that. Seems there's no need for a distinctive voice unless you're going to talk about machismo. Is it any wonder there isn't more women working in the industry?
And so, when it was announced that Cody was working for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures to contribute to the EVIL DEAD screenplay, fans predictably flipped out. I'd make a case that their anger was perhaps best aimed at the entire project itself, needless remake that it is, but instead there was far too much concern that this writer was being let anywhere near it. Perhaps they were worried that if a woman were in charge, they might not get their precious Tree Rape sequence! And as big a fan of these movies as I am, that scene stands out as the lowest point of the trilogy. A fact Raimi, Campbell and Robert Tapert will also attest.
To be honest, Cody's involvement on the film was the only thing that actually pepped me up. Having long-harboured the hopes that Raimi will deliver on a fourth instalment of the franchise (he did promise, repeatedly!) it was a crushing blow when the remake was announced. We were never going to see Ash again. Not groovy. Not groovy at all. Cody at least clued us to the fact that this was not a throwaway cash-grab. They hired a writer who could bring these new batch of poor unfortunates to life, make us care about them. Before they get ripped apart by a Deadite.
Above all, we knew that Diablo Cody was a life-long horror nut and, most importantly, a massive fan of the 1981 original. There's no way a fan would approach a remake of something they held dear with anything other than the upmost respect.
For anyone still in doubt, here's an extract from her recent interview with Collider.com, where they managed to get the screenwriter to talk briefly on the project...
I was so excited to do it. I wouldn’t have even gotten involved if Sam and Bruce Campbell hadn’t been involved as well, they’re producing it, and so of course I was like “Alright I have to do this” because I’m such a fan of the original, and the whole original series in fact. But I was nervous to take the job because I thought “Ugh, I’m gonna get shit for this. People are not gonna like this, because all people know of me is like Juno and they think I’m gonna pollute Evil Dead with like wacky dialogue and cute stuff and folk music, and it’s like “No, look I understand what this is. I’m interested in storytelling here and making it scary and good and true to the original.” I feel like people will hopefully see Young Adult and go “Oh, okay that’s a horrifying movie maybe she could pull it off.”
Because the director’s draft was really scary, I tried to stay away from some of the big horror set pieces. I didn’t wanna mess with his vision, because he’s the one who ultimately has to shoot it. That being said, there is a moment near the—I mean it’s unbelievably violent (laughs). Occasionally I threw in a wound here or there. I didn’t write anything extravagant.
It certainly sounds like the movie's in safe hands to us, and hopefully these words will go some way to calming the detractors down a peg. If there's an EVIL DEAD reboot on its way we might as well all just hope for the best.
And yes, I've realised that I've got all this way without mentioning the box-office dud that was the Cody-penned JENNIFER'S BODY. Sorry, but I'm a fan. I suspect that those of you who haven't seen it have avoided it due to the aforementioned negativity surrounding the writer (or, at the risk of fudging my point, most likely the fact that Megan Fox stars) but we highly recommend you check it out. It's a love letter to the goofy 80's teen monster movies of old, a superbly paced, whip-smart comedy horror. Hell, even Michael Bay's best mate is pretty good in it.
EVIL DEAD hits sometime in 2013.
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