Excluding betting on the Oscars and my one day as a production assistant on The Departed, I have only made money off of one movie — the 1996 thriller FEAR. At just 12 years old, I was pumped to see fellow Boston boy Mark Wahlberg terrorize Reese Witherspoon and her family, but my Mom was nervous (less about the violence than the teenage sex) about letting me go by myself, so she paid me $20 bucks to steer clear of the local theater. The six-month-wait for the film to hit VHS (the same day that Primal Fear came out, no less) was, shall we say, a real rollercoaster ride, but when I finally did rent it from my local Blockbuster, that $20 bucks came in handy, since I’m almost certain I returned it pretty late.
That’s right, Fear is one of my low-key favorite films (I’ve probably seen it 20 times), and now Hollywood has finally caught up to the fact that it’s awesome, because it has finally been targeted for a remake. Or a reboot. Wait, a re-imagining, excuse me.
Universal Pictures has hired Straight Outta Compton scribe Jonathan Herman to pen a modern update of the film, so expect more texting and Instagram jealousy, etc. And yes, there’s a twist. See, this time around, it seems that the troubled teen will be the girl, not Marky Mark’s mysterious, cherry-popping David.
So essentially, this is like The Crush, but with age-appropriate leads. I’ve spent the better part of a decade begging Morgan Creek for a Crush remake, so if they get beat by Universal, it’s their own damn fault. I mean, Fatal Attraction came out 31 years ago. Swimfan was 16 years ago. I’m sure there are plenty of movies featuring psychotic teenage girls that have been released in the interim, but this “re-imagination” strikes me as a great idea, though to be honest, I would’ve liked to have seen how a female writer might’ve tackled this one. Or me… but that’s just selfish. Herman is a solid scribe who has earned the trust of Universal execs, and he seems particularly excited about taking on this classic (in my opinion).
In case you’re not familiar with the premise, Fear starred Reese Witherspoon in one of her earliest roles. She played Nicole, an innocent little Daddy’s Girl (literally, it said so on her bracelet) who falls for bad boy David, who initially treats her like a princess, even though he shows flashes of a violent temper. Dad (a terrific William Petersen) doesn’t like Nicole spending all this time with David, and what he discovers upon investigating the young man causes him to pull the plug on their relationship. Except it isn’t over for David, who bears a self-made “Nicole 4 Eva” tattoo on his chest. This leads to a chilling home invasion that is basically one of the greatest third acts in the history of cinema. Don’t @ me about this. I don’t want to hear it.
Despite this, Fear only grossed $20 million and owns a 39% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is insane. Interestingly enough, the original was directed by James Foley, who just helmed the Fifty Shades sequels for Universal. I wonder if he put a bug in their ear about it. While the studio will likely hire another filmmaker (I could provide them with a dynamite list, trust me), Brian Grazer will return to produce for Imagine Entertainment, whose Tyler Mitchell will oversee the project along with Universal execs Jon Mone and Christine Sun.
The casting is going to be tricky. The first film got extremely lucky, since how many teen actors have gone on to have wildly successful careers like Wahlberg and Witherspoon? Very, very few, is the answer. So until I see the casting for this one, the jury’s out, but I commend Universal for putting this project into development, because it could pay off nicely for them. I’m actually curious to see what the “re-imagining” might’ve looked like in Blumhouse’s hands, since that company has been on a roll lately. But seriously, can you imagine the Rollercoaster Scene in the age of Twitter? That thing would’ve trended for weeks, even without the wonderful “Wild Horses” cover that I still play when the mood is right. No word on whether the Rollercoaster will return, or whether it’ll be replaced by a sexy Ferris Wheel.
In addition to co-writing Straight Outta Compton, Herman worked on a rewrite of Scarface for Universal, which also hired him to adapt Melissa Del Bosque’s book Bloodlines for producers Michael De Luca and Channing Tatum. He also adapted Chris Pavone’s novel The Travelers for Amblin Partners.
Herman is represented by UTA and Industry Entertainment, and Deadline broke the news. However, going forward, I expect Grazer to keep me in the loop about this one, just in case he needs a true Fear fan to keep him from making a fatal casting mistake or a crippling director hire. Just let me in the f*ckin’ house, Brian! You can trust me… at least more than you can Margo.
[Editor’s Note: This post is dedicated to the memory of Kaiser the Dog. R.I.P. buddy!]
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief