Rogue Pictures hasn’t exactly knocked it out the box with their horror output over the last few years, so I’m not going to get too excited over the prospect of Wes Craven launching a new “signature villain” with his latest thriller 25/8. Meanwhile, I don’t care who’s producing Breck Eisner’s remake of George A. Romero’s The Crazies; that’s just bad news regardless of who’s footing the bill.
Though Craven’s notoriously hit-or-miss, he’s at least coming off one of the most polished and entertaining films of his career in Red Eye. It’s strange to think that Craven’s craft may still be improving as he nears seventy, but there’s no denying that Red Eye and the Scream films are visually superior works when compared to the rough, sometimes inept likes of Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. Does a budget help? Sure. But there’s nothing in those earlier films to suggest that he’d get so adept with the camera.
Still, I know I’d prefer the rough-around-the-edges A Nightmare on Elm Street to another forced attempt at creating a horror franchise (‘cuz that’s how you get Horace Pinker). So maybe it’s a good thing that Craven is careful to label 25/8 a suspense film – even though it’s about a serial killer returning after a fifteen year layoff to stalk seven kids born on the night he supposedly died. Craven wrote the screenplay for this one (his first completely original, non-sequel script since 1991’s The People Under the Stairs), and it’ll be the second movie produced under his Midnight Pictures shingle (following the redo of The Last House on the Left). Let’s hope it’s more Freddy Krueger than Samantha Pringle.
Hope vanishes when we consider Rogue’s other just-announced production, The Crazies. Though Romero’s 1973 original about a military-manufactured virus that’s accidentally unleashed on a small town is a great little movie, it’s also a really little movie. Most audiences wouldn’t be able to handle the cheapness of the production and the relative amateurishness of the acting; in other words, a remake makes total sense. But I find it hard to believe that Eisner, the director of nearly average Sahara (and the son of Michael), has the chops to expand the scale whilst handling Romero’s deftly integrated political themes. But the screenplay’s by Ray Wright, who made a mess of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse with none other than Mr. Craven; The Crazies is probably fucked from jump.
Emphasizing the positive… if another bastardization of a great Romero film is the price to pay for Craven working a smart new twist on the serial killer genre, then I’ll take it. Now about that “smart new twist”…