Ari Aster Doesn't Consider Beau Is Afraid A Remake Of His 2011 Short Beau

Ari Aster's new three-hour-long horror comedy epic "Beau is Afraid" is actually based on a short film of his that spans just six minutes in length. It's a lot of material to expand into a film of that length, but Aster himself said that it's because he's thought about the title character and developed enough material over the years to construct a tale grandiose enough to warrant a return. In fact, according to the filmmaker, "Beau is Afraid" isn't even really a remake of his short "Beau," but a wholly different piece of work that merely shares similarities.

Aster released "Beau" in 2011, the same year that he debuted his infamous thesis short film "The Strange Thing About the Johnsons," both of which star the late Billy Mayo. The short and Aster's 2023 feature begin with the same unfortunate turn of events when a man on a trip to visit his mother finds his keys and suitcase missing, and they likewise devolve into a series of panic attack-inducing events. However, whereas "Beau" is a very contained story set in an apartment, "Beau is Afraid" is an entire journey (Aster likened it to a "Jewish 'Lord of the Rings'") featuring flashbacks that further develop Beau's relationship with his mother.

The evolution of Beau

The original script for "Beau is Afraid" dates back to 2014, before Ari Aster had released any of his theatrical features. It's a project that Aster became entranced by and had ruminated on for years before he started filming anything. In an interview with Collider, the director called "Beau" a "sketch" and "a slap-together thing" that was the result of him wanting to shoot something at his apartment before he moved out. Over time, the basic premise of "a guy leaving his key in the door... and then coming back and the key is gone" had remained in his brain, where it gestated until its final form. Aster expressed:

"I don't see this as a remake of that short, or even necessarily an expansion of that short. I know that that's kind of an unsatisfying answer given that they have the same basic title, and the catalyst for the story is the same, but only to say that this story has been just kind of growing and growing for me, and that character has been both growing and almost turning more and more into this enigma."

In this sense, "Beau is Afraid" is more inspired by "Beau" than a retread. Sure, they both start off the same way, but the main plot of "Beau" is just the inciting incident of the corrupted hero's journey that is "Beau is Afraid." Aster may be most known for his horror films, the supernatural "Hereditary" and the cult-centered "Midsommar," but his new feature "was always special" to him as something he's tried to get off the ground for years. For fans of his work, it might just be the most Ari Aster-y film yet.

"Beau is Afraid" opens in theaters on April 21, 2023.