The Crow Remake Starring Bill Skarsgard: WHY?

The Crow Remake (At least we’ll get flashbacks!)

The Crow (1994) is one of those rare movies that I think is perfect. The story is a simple revenge story; Eric Draven and his fiancée Shelley are murdered the night before their wedding. A year later, Eric comes back from the dead to seek his revenge. A story created to help process the author’s grief, the 1994 film based on the comic is something unique, a true case of lightning in a bottle. Impeccably acted, tightly written, a fantastic soundtrack, The Crow is stylistically and thematically a master class in goth horror. The film also saw the tragic loss of their lead, Brandon Lee, only weeks before filming was complete due to an accident on set. A film about losing a loved one suddenly was living out that exact moment in reality, and in seeing the film to completion, they paid great respect to the man who lost his life making something he loved and believed in. The last lines call back on the message of the film, that the ones we love never really leave us, and it’s with that bit of hope The Crow then sends audiences back into the world.

If what I just described sounds beautiful, get ready for the sheer horror of the fact they are remaking it. And just like all the terrible sequels that followed The Crow, this one looks… rough.

Vanity Fair released the first images of the new adaptation on their Instagram and hardly anyone was pleased. These still depict Eric (Bill Skarsgard) and his fiancée Shelley (FKA Twigs).

Granted, I know I specifically focus on film reviews and this film isn’t out yet, but I have to say the costuming choices have already set my low expectations into the depths of the earth’s core. Having Eric shirtless with that knock off Picasso sketch art tattoo (you know what I’m talking about, that line work sketch of a lady everyone had on shirts and earrings back in 2018) with his own nipple serving as her other eye was a bridge too far and very Jared Leto Joker-esque. I’m not the only one who noticed, fans came for these newly released images and came for them hard. There were a few defenders, mostly Bill fans and a few people screaming over and over that “it’s based on the comics, not the 94 film, give it a chance”, to which I say, no.

Bill is not Brandon Lee; I get that. I also get that this new film will be an adaptation of the comic book, which is admittedly different than the 1994 film. However, the character of Eric Draven is intrinsically tied to Brandon Lee; not only did he unfortunately pass whilst making the film, he also called The Crow his proudest work. His love for the project shows — Lee brings something so subtle but powerful to the role, commanding scenes while barely saying more than five words. (“I just want him” anyone?) His Draven is angry, but soft, determined and emotional — his pain is so very real, yet he balances this with romance and humor, Lee makes this an untouchable performance.

A stellar cast also supports him. Ernie Hudson as beat cop Albrecht, the only man who seems to know he is speaking to a dead man and reluctantly tries his best to support Eric, is a wonderful pairing with Lee. The two bring so much heart to both characters, and Hudson’s earnestness to help perfectly pairs with Lee’s portrayal of brokenhearted determination. Hudson is naturally charismatic and likable and brings that human element to the story. He is the heart of the film, the human character who tries even with everything to lose. He is essential to the story; without him, I think a lot of the tone would be muddied or lost.

On the opposite end of that, you have Michael Wincott as the villain Top Dollar. If you know anything about me, it’s that I have a raging crush on Michael Wincott and have his Top Dollar monologue memorized (“ARE WE HAVING FUN OR WHAT” is something I regularly say in the mirror to amp myself up). That personal love aside, Top Dollar is one of the greatest villains of all time. He’s smart, he’s well dressed, he has a sword, he’s gross, he’s violent, he’s untrustworthy — and Wincott captures all of this with grace and humor. His delivery of lines can be intentionally hilarious and on a dime turn to menacing; he truly is a man without a care in the world, only existing to cause chaos because it’s fun for him. Wincott plays the character with such sincerity and joy that when I watch this film, I am of course rooting for Eric, but I can’t help but to want Top Dollar to win too. Lee and Wincott also play off so well off each other, two men with nothing to lose leads to one of my favorite final fights of all time.

And don’t even get me started on Rochelle Davis, who plays Sarah, the little girl Eric and Shelley took care of when they were alive. Davis is a stellar performer who holds her own against all these greats, perfectly balancing a preteen attitude with childlike wonder as one of her only friends comes back to life. While child characters are usually the bane of my existence, Sarah is the exception to that rule and is one of my favorite characters of all time.

I bring all of these characters and actors up because they are what bring The Crow to life — and why it’s so frustrating with this remake, as they STILL have not released a cast list besides Eric and Shelley. And while I’m happy that Shelley will have more scenes than in the original, they will exist only as flashbacks— so essentially we will be getting a movie of exposition about why Eric is here, but I have nothing else to go on. Who is he fighting? What is the plot?

What is at stake?
Who knows? But we’ll get flashbacks! Oh boy!

The marketing for this film, or lack thereof, and the costuming have obliterated any hope in my eyes of this being anything worthwhile. I already have the perfect version of The Crow, one that was Lee’s proudest. Considering how he and Eric Draven are synonymous at this point, I can’t see any new handling of the film or comic as something that would be correct. When they first were casting this film, about ten years ago, Luke Evans was up to play Eric but decided to step away, thinking himself unworthy of the part.

While I think Evans is an incredible actor, and I would love to see his Top Dollar (this is coming from Wincott’s biggest fan so this is high praise, Luke, since I’m hoping you somehow read this), I think he brings up a point about the role of Eric — as it is so closely tied to Brandon, it does almost feel like something no one can, or should, be able to touch. It feels like one of those roles that never really left us due to our love of the original film and cast.

It goes beyond nostalgia at a certain point, and while this new film could be beautiful (I doubt it with Mr. Nipple Eye Tattoo, but I digress) I feel like it misses the point. The Crow is so perfectly framed in the time it was made, in the love Lee had for it, and the pain that stemmed from that love, that I don’t think audiences are going to resonate with the new adaptation.

It can’t rain all the time, and it can’t always be about nostalgic cash grabs. This is hardly a review but more of a retrospective of a perfect film, and why this remake is, at best, an attempt to recreate an imitation of a feeling.

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