Earlier this week, in commending actor Ed Skrein’s decision to turn down a role in Hellboy that was originally written as Asian, your film editor wrote, “I’m sure this is a fleeting thing and tomorrow someone will cast Jennifer Lawrence in a Chien-Shiung Wu biopic or something, but let’s enjoy this moment of wisdom and sensitivity while we can, eh?” And look, it’s not quite that egregious, but it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the execs are at it again, with Warner Brothers green-lighting a new adaptation of Lord of the Flies… but with, plot twist, girls. And unlike, say, the online kerfuffle over the female-led reimagining of Ghostbusters, male source material purists aren’t the ones who are annoyed.
William Golding’s 1954 novel, as we surely all know, concerns a group of young British boys, stranded on a desert island, whose attempts to live alone and govern themselves are scorched by their inherent pettiness and cruelty. In other words, it’s a story of toxic masculinity, before that term even existed, so, y’know, turning it into a film about young women sorta misses the entire point, no?
And here’s the least shocking part: said reimagining was thought up by, haha, two dudes. Scott McGhee and David Siegel are fine filmmakers – their What Maisie Knew from a few years back is a good flick, and their earlier The Deep End is even better – but this doesn’t make a lick of sense. McGhee told Deadline that the story is “aggressively suspenseful, and taking the opportunity to tell it in a way it hasn’t been told before, with girls rather than boys, is that it shifts things in a way that might help people see the story anew. It breaks away from some of the conventions, the ways we think of boys and aggression.” Arright, dude. Have you looked at, like, a newspaper recently? There’s a reason we think that way.
Adding in the fact that there are already two perfectly fine Flies movies out there – Peter Brook’s 1963 version, and Harry Hook’s take from 1990 – and you’ve got maybe the least necessary book-to-film adaptation in recent memory, and yes, I’m including those Fifty Shades flicks.