"Completely unoriginal at every turn. It's all been done before, and better." The Editors
Remake is a film about remaking the stories of Parker and Hulme and of Genet's The Maids, where the filmmakers act out and mix in their own life stories and in which the ensuing confusion leads to both comic and tragic results. It can be read as a murder mystery, a satire on Christchurch contemporary life or a DIY (do-it-yourself) attempt to make a New Zealand new wave art film.
Liz and Marian are two young students of film and theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand, who decide to make a film. They film each other when they talk to their boyfriends on the phone or re-enact "scenes" that they had with them. They place a hidden camera in their parents' living rooms to film "scenes" they have with them. They are also researching the fantasy lives of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker who murdered Pauline's mother in Christchurch fifty years ago. They try to take on their roles and to (re)make a film about them (Heavenly Creatures). They follow their footsteps around Christchurch and, like Juliet and Pauline, search for a Fourth World, which is more exciting and meaningful than their lives at the bottom of the world, where nothing ever happens.
Together they try to find this hidden world: in the church, in Christchurch's witches scene, in the tapu places of Port Levy, in drugs and dreams, in each other, and above all, in film and theatre. Like Juliet and Pauline they role-play as film stars (Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth) and remake scenes from the Marx Brothers and Verdi's Tosca. But they also replay scenes from works that themselves investigate role-playing, such as Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating and Jean Genet's The Maids, or scenes from life, like a prominent New Zealand theatre director's public abduction and shaming. The theatrical games that they play with the scenes of the murderous maids increasingly mirror Parker and Hulme's as well as their own games in mixing the fake and the real.
To film all this they acquire the help of the cameraman Shahin and the musician Nick with whom they also play their own games. The question becomes whom they will "murder": themselves, each other, their mother or father, or their boyfriends. The murders that end the film come as surprises that are at the same time inescapable.