Peirce's version uses more modern communication and places a greater emphasis on Carrie White's telekinetic powers as a metaphor for her coming of age. "It would be like going to college for someone else," Moretz said. "This is more like, 'This might be who I am. This is how I'm going to grow up.' It's an extension of herself, and it can't be cheesy."
Neither could the violence, which is rooted in psychological motivations that are more clear this time around. "You've got to be careful with that," Peirce said. "How much is pornographic? How much is unreal? How much is real?"
Julianne Moore, who plays Carrie's mother, Margaret, voiced concerns about scenes requiring her character to abuse her daughter. "She was like, 'I don't want to beat her up,' " Peirce recalled. "She was like, 'This is the modern era. If a parent does that, they're going to get locked up.' So we had to find another layer of authenticity. She definitely uses physical punishment -- you're not going to get denied that -- but she made sure to layer it into a reality that worked.
Moore said the character was so isolated, she viewed "every physical act" as something to do with parenting and loving too much. "This child is the only person she sees or speaks to," the actress said. "So why would someone hurt someone they love so much? All of the damage she was inflicting is in the guise of parenting, because she only sees danger out there for Carrie."
To get Moretz into a space where she could play a teen trying to break free from an overly protective mother, Peirce said, she encouraged her to rebel against her family and fight with her mother. "I told her mother, 'Get ready. She's going to fight with you, because she has to.' "
Peirce also took Moretz to women's homeless shelters to understand suffering on a deeper level. "She's a sensitive girl, and she's going to use that to represent more accurately," the director said.
One other big shift between the De Palma movie and the new version, as glimpsed in footage premiered at NYCC, is the extent and scope of Carrie's wrath: it's not just the prom that she burns down anymore. "There are a lot of things that happen that you haven't seen before," Peirce promised. "Chloë had me crying at the monitor, and I don't cry."
Don't look for Ash in the "Evil Dead" reboot, due out April 12: Bruce Campbell is a producer on the project, but he won't be in it. "There's no hokey cameo from me as the ice-cream guy, 'Here's your $2. You kids be careful at that cabin!' "
Instead, the new film -- directed by Fede Alvarez -- focuses on a character named Mia (played by "Suburgatory" star Jane Levy), who has a serious reason to gather her friends at an isolated cabin in the woods. "I go to kick a habit, a heroin addiction, and I bring all the people who are closest to me to help me do it," explained Levy.
"The tagline should be, 'When interventions go bad,' " Campbell said, "because the problem is, by the time things get too far along, they think she's only in withdrawal. They don't realize it's a little worse than that, and when the evil, when the dead is unleashed, it's pretty relentless."
This is because they inevitably find an ancient tome that awakens the dead that they should have left well enough alone. Doesn't anyone ever learn? Apparently not, otherwise the five-kids-in-the-woods concept wouldn't have needed spoofing/deconstructing in the aptly named film "Cabin in the Woods" this year. "Evil Dead," however, sees no need to spoof itself any longer.
"This one is straight horror, more like the first 'Evil Dead,' " Campbell said. "And the first one was only funny because it was melodramatic dialogue delivered by bad actors. I'm less worse now, but the first one was not designed to be funny, although we evolved the series to go that way."
Levy said shooting the film was the worst experience of her life because of what the role required of her during the four-month shoot. "I was strangled," she said. "I was buried alive, fully, under the ground, with only a cell phone and a flashlight. I did one take, and I cried. I was like, 'That's it!' "
Alvarez said there was always something in the premise of "Evil Dead" that was meant for a main female character, since it's one of the few franchises where "women torture men," instead of the other way around. "Usually in horror, it's a girl running from some dude with an ax who is chasing her. This is completely the other way around, because it's the girl driving the guys crazy."
The violence quotient is at an extreme high in the new "Evil Dead," with first teaser footage shown at NYCC revealing a tongue cut in two with rusty scissors and an arm chainsawed off. As for other scenes, "How about a nail gun fight? How about a blood rain?" Campbell teased. "This is a balls-out movie that will torment people for the rest of their lives, but thankfully, there's not a frame of torture porn. I hope we're coming out the a**-end of torture porn, and may it never return."
Many horror movies tease that they're "based on a true story," but few actually are. However, two very real paranormal investigators and one of their more notorious cases form the basis of "The Conjuring," out July 19. Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) sniffed out supernatural stories such as the Amityville and Snedeker hauntings (which became the basis of "The Amityville Horror" and "The Haunting in Connecticut"), long before it became fashionable.
"Before videocameras, before people could edit their own scary YouTube video -- 'Look, a ghost moved my Coke can in the middle of the night!' -- the first people to do it were Ed and Lorraine Warren," Wilson said. "Any paranormal investigator, whether truthful or a charlatan, referenced them, and this is one of their first cases."
In Harrisville, Rhode Island, the Warrens investigated a case at the home of the Perron family, who were purportedly haunted by the ghost of a New England witch named Bathsheba Sherman who hung herself in their barn long ago. The mother of the family (played by Lili Taylor) was also allegedly possessed by the witch's spirit, and "The Conjuring" depicts those events.
The real-life Perron family came to the set to see their old home fashioned as a three-story house on a soundstage, and Lorraine Warren helped consult with the actors. Taylor took lessons from a heavy-metal vocal coach to learn how to scream for at least 20 minutes straight "and not lose my voice," she said. But her character's demon side might be heard more than seen, based on teaser footage showed at NYCC.
"I think they were aiming for a PG because they wanted the audience, and they were given a R for no reason other than how scary it is," Livingston said.
"It goes back to Steven Spielberg and 'Jaws,' " Wilson said. "When do you show the shark? How much do you want to hold back? So the moments when you see ... her, I'll say ... to me is pretty terrifying. But it's not just, 'Come see this crazy horror movie if you're 19.' I think it's a much broader story about a family in peril. It's a very human story in a supernatural world."
"It's so deep, emotionally," Taylor said. "My husband (author Nick Flynn) said he never cried and screamed at a horror film before."