When John Carpenter set out to make 1982's "The Thing," working from a script by Bill Lancaster, what made it exciting was the way he went back to the John Campbell short story that inspired the '50s film and created something very, very different. I have trouble even calling his movie a remake, because it doesn't bear much resemblance at all to the Christian Nyby film "The Thing From Another World," no matter how much it served as a precursor.
I mention this to try to set some context for the news that Matt Reeves, director of "Cloverfield" and "Let Me In," has signed to adapt the short story, "8 O'Clock In The Morning," as a new and at-the-moment untitled film. The story has been adapted before, and I find it fitting that it was John Carpenter who adapted it as "They Live." When Strike Entertainment first started talking about a remake of "They Live," it was easy to imagine that they'd do something that looked very much like Carpenter's movie. In that film, he created a great device, sunglasses that would allow the wearer to see the truth about aliens living among us, and he played the film as a broad social satire. It's pretty great in its own right, but is it the definitive version of the story?
Well, we'll see. Evidently Matt Reeves has decided that he's got a take on it, and Strike Entertainment's explanation of why his take is exciting is, I must admit, fairly persuasive.
“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 me. “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.”
[Strike Entertainment parter Eric ]Newman said Strike sought out Reeves because so much of the effectiveness of his work is based on point of view. “Whether it was the POV of the camera in Cloverfield or the young boy realizing that a vampire was living next store in Let Me In, Matt’s work shines at that,” Newman said. “There is a paranoid element to this, but the audience is in lock step with this guy, seeing the aliens from his point of view.”
Reeves seems to me like the real deal, a smart writer and director with an appetite for genre but also an understand that the best of it illuminates things that are true or important or significant about society at large. I'm excited to see what he makes of the material, and in the meantime, Strike is still working to finish up their prequel to Carpenter's "The Thing."
Yes, I'm aware how very, very circular this story is. Hollywood is the Ouroboros. And so it goes.