I actually saw this news item bounce around Twitter (my preferred RSS feed) earlier today, but I thought I hallucinated it. Not because it’s bad, exactly, but because I’m sick and I’m seeing things everywhere.
I’ve just realized that probably reads as lousy attempt to make a They Live! joke. Eh.
Deadline announced today that Matt Reeves has become attached to direct a remake of They Live for Universal. This remake has been kicking around for awhile, as have a lot of the great John Carpenter classics, but this time it promises to be something other than a straight up remake. Reeves plans to go back to the original Ray Nelson story, Eight O’Clock in the Morning, and give it his own spin. “I saw an opportunity to do a movie that was very point-of-view driven, a psychological science fiction thriller that explores this guy’s nightmare,” Reeves told Deadline. “There could be a desperate love story at the center of this. Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a Roman Polanski-style film.”
I’m not as opposed to this as I was way back in 2008 when it was first kicked around, but it’s undoubtedly a curiosity piqued by a director choosing to actually read the source material instead of just going shot-by-shot. I’m a big believer in letting directors tackle any story — even something that’s been told in a “definitive” way — and mine something fresh out of it. (See: True Grit, Mildred Pierce.) If we always took the belief there was only one way to tell a story, we would have only had one production of Hamlet. A new adaptation is not the same as a straight-up remake in my mind.
But then this is Reeves, who already has one unnecessary remake under his belt, and one that many argued didn’t bring anything new to the table. (To my great shame, I haven’t actually watched Let Me In yet — didn’t feel a pressing need to do it — so I’m just echoing the debate.) Perhaps those accusations fired him up, and he’ll do something truly unique and innovative with Nelson’s story. Or we’ll just see Dwayne Johnson pick up a pair of magical sunglasses and…well, you know the rest.