Sci Fi Wire (US), December 20, 2000

The Gift Is Not Usual Raimi

Sam Raimi, director of the upcoming supernatural thriller movie The Gift, told SCI FI Wire that fans of his earlier Evil Dead movies should expect a different kind of ghost story. "Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2--the early horror movies that I made--were about trying to show the supernatural as an outrageous, funny, bold, exciting and terrifying force," Raimi said during a press briefing. "In this movie, ... the point of view is so different, because the goal was to service the screenplay and the actors' performances and try to present the supernatural as something that was real."

The Gift, which opens for a limited run in Los Angeles Dec. 20 and nationally Jan. 19, stars Cate Blanchett as Annie Wilson, a small-town psychic who is enlisted to find the missing daughter of the town's richest man. In the process, she crosses paths with a wife abuser played by Keanu Reeves. "It was a different approach that the screenplay guided us all in, which is that this is a real woman and a real family, and the supernatural exists," Raimi said. "So we ... wanted to make it real. We wanted Cate to first establish that she was real and her family was real, so that the journey of the supernatural would be terrifying, not because of the extreme or exaggerated effects or camera movement, but rather because you care about this woman and her family. And when the slightest thing happens, however subtle, in the world of the supernatural, and it might threaten her, it has greater impact because you believe her. That was the difference in the approach of this picture. That's what guided the style of the film."

Raimi also had reservations about casting Reeves in the key role of abuser Donnie Barksdale. "When they said he was interested, I said, 'You must be crazy,'" Raimi recalled. "And then they said, 'He wants to meet you.' I said, 'Yeah, but I don't want to meet him, because I don't want to meet him and then say no. It'll only make it worse.' And they said, 'Let him meet you.' So I go into this meeting, thinking, 'Ah, I'm dreading this meeting.' So he came in, and I found out that I had been fooled, like everybody's fooled by movie actors. ... In this case, I just thought he was that kid from [Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure]. But he turned out to be this very intelligent young man, very dedicated to the craft of acting. ... And then he slipped into the part, in little bits and pieces, and suddenly I saw, in that moment, that Donnie Barksdale could be this sexual animal also. And that became a very new and exciting idea to me."

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