The People Under the Stairs, Wes Craven’s 1991 over-the-top horror flick that takes aim at the Reagan era, is getting a remake courtesy of Jordan Peele. Peele will produce the People Under the Stairs remake for Universal, and while some Wes Craven fans may initially be resistant to such an idea, the fact of the matter is that the original People Under the Stairs is a movie with good ideas and poor execution. There’s room for improvement.
Jordan Peele is setting his sights on The People Under the Stairs, according to Collider. Peele will produce a People Under the Stairs remake with Win Rosenfeld via their Monkeypaw Productions. Peele is not expected to direct – which is a bummer, since I’d love to see him tackle this material. But while he’s not going to direct there’s always a chance he’ll take part in the screenplay, as he did with Nia DaCosta’s Candyman reboot.
Peele has spoken about People Under the Stairs before. In an interview in the excellent documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, Peele says: “One of the things that movie really captures is black fear of white spaces.” And in an interview with the Village Voice, Peele said: “People Under the Stairs represents, whether intentionally or not, a certain fear of what goes on behind closed doors in white homes. And it also approaches the notion of enslavement of the people they’ve got hidden under the stairs.”
In the original film, a young Black boy nicknamed Fool and two adult thieves break into a house owned by a white couple, the Robesons, played by Twin Peaks stars Everett McGill and Wendy Robie. Once inside, Fool discovers the Robesons are out of their god damn minds. They treat their daughter as a virtual prisoner, and they have a group of cannibal “children” locked up in the walls. It’s a very weird movie with a constantly shifting tone, but it also has its moments. For one thing, the film is a satirical look at the Reagan era, with the homicidal couple serving as stand-ins for Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Which makes me wonder: will the remake take a similar approach, but take aim at the Trump era instead? Are the Robesons about to go from Reagan stand-ins to Trump stand-ins? Talk about terrifying.
As I said above, the original has some great ideas but the execution is a bit messy, so I’m very interested in a remake. I’m also interested in seeing how a Black filmmaker – assuming Peele hires one – can handle a similar story.
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