Mentioning Scott Derrickson’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose in yesterday’s post reminded me of a humorous idea I had the first time I saw the movie. It occurred to me that Scott Derrickson is remaking the great theological movies as horror movies.
Scott’s USC master’s thesis Love in the Ruins (1995) was fairly obviously a remake a Wings of Desire (1987) except with demons whispering despair into people’s ears instead of angels whispering hope. Less obviously, his first feature film, the direct-to-video Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) was a remake of Bad Lieutenant (1992). Both films are about corrupt, drug-addicted, women-abusing, cops whose investigation of a disturbingly evil crime forces them to face their own evil — except that in Scott’s film, the cop ends up haunted by demons and damned to Hell rather than receiving the moment of redemptive grace which the original film’s protagonist experiences. Finally, Scott’s first major studio release The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) was a remake of Breaking the Waves (1996). Both films are Kierkegaardian fables about a devout and innocent young woman who may or may not have heard God’s voice telling her to sacrifice her own life in order to participate in humanity’s redemption through suffering — except Scott’s version has (what else?) demons.
I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with his upcoming remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (due Christmas 2008). Maybe, since this movie is already a remake, it will break the pattern. Or maybe Scott will find a way to secretly make it a remake of The Seventh Seal (1957). Or, since the theological films he borrows from are usually only about 8-9 years old at the time of his remake, and since The Day the Earth Stood Still will star Keanu Reeves, maybe Scott’s subtext this time will be . . . The Matrix (1999)???