Because remakes and knockoffs are scientifically awesome, Slingshot Productions and BBC Films are developing what can only be referred to as Strangers On a Train for teenagers. Oh, hey, what do you know! The working title is even Teens On a Train. How clever and edgy and fresh.
According to Deadline, the project arose from a teen Hitchcock screenwriting competition put on by Slingshot back in 2007. Teens On a Train uses the basic concept of Strangers by way of the original novel written by Patricia Highsmith: Two strangers who have loved ones that they cannot stand meet on a train serendipitously. One proposes that they kill each other’s loved ones so that neither of them can be implicated, due to their lack of motive. “Criss-cross.”
In Teens On a Train, however, it’s the classic love story of boy meets girl on a train…who then turns out to be a homicidal lunatic. Slingshot CEO Arvind Ethan David said that, in addition to Strangers, Teens was heavily influenced by Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise. Is that because it's about a boy and a girl who randomly meet out in the world? Or does Teens On a Train take place over the course of a single night, too?
It's likely not a coincidence that the announcement of Teens comes hot on the heels of a New York court ruling that another Hitchcockian teen film, Disturbia, directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Shia LaBeouf, did not copy the short story that Hitchock's Rear Window was based on, legally-speaking.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), every single Hitchock remake has been universally panned, from Psycho starring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche to The 39 Steps (1959) to Rear Window starring Christopher Reeve and Daryl Hannah. Movies merely inspired by Hitchcock’s classics, on the other hand, have fared overwhelmingly better. Brian DePalma’s Dressed to Kill, for example, is classic 80s trash. Road Games, starring Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, is the best Hitchcockian film Alfred Hitchcock never laid a hand on. And the Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) film The Bedroom Window, in spite of Steve Guttenberg’s goofy presence, is tense, sexy, and incredibly entertaining, just as Poppa Hitchcock would’ve wanted.
Hell, even Disturbia, otherwise known as "Rear Window Jr.," was an enjoyable if forgettable film experience. The point is, there's no reason to write off this Strangers On a Train imitation just yet, as it might surprise everyone. But what do you guys think? Should Alfred Hitchcock films be off-limits, even as inspirations? Or is everything, even the master's filmography, fair game?
Slingshot aims to start shooting Teens on a Train in 2011 with a screenplay by Joshua St. Johnson, creator of the BBC fashion drama Material Girl. Let's just hope that Teens can at least stack up to that other Stranger On a Train-inspired film, Throw Momma From the Train, starring Billy Crystal and Danny Devito. "Criss-cross" indeed.
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