The sincerest form of flattery....um...unless it really sucks
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson
Based on the forehead-slapping-silly premise of a videotape that kills anyone
who views it, this remake of the 1998 film that spawned the manga that spawned
the sequel that spawned the television series will scare the shit out of you,
despite some major flaws. After all the begats and begets, the miracle is that
the idea managed to slip into Hollywood fat pants relatively unscathed. The
plot follows the original almost to the letter: A reporter investigates the
bizarre death of her niece and finds herself immersed in a clever bit of Linda
Blair-cum-urban legend as the curse threatens the life of her young son and
estranged husband. Substitute Seattle for Tokyo and you’ve got a fairly seamless
Americanization of a solid horror film.
The original by Jap horror auteur Hideo Nakata generated a monomaniacal fan
base whose presence on the web is itself nothing short of terrifying. The film
delved with plastic spades into the undercurrents of a failed family relationship
and arcane elements of pseudo-science, but its triumph lay mainly in the unbearable
suspense bred by the sparsely lit sets, nightmarish video sequences and Mike
Leigh-style one-shots. Gore Verbinski tries to honor the original, sacrificing
many opportunities for techno-gore in favor of sound-assisted heart-stoppers,
art-film video and blitzkrieg editing. He and cameraman Bojan Bazelli put a
brave face on the unbelievable pile of crap that passed for a script. And here
comes the rant.
Why is it that Hollywood scriptwriters feel the need to enforce the commonly
held belief that Americans are idiots? Is idiocy viewed as somehow patriotic
these days? Is it really that much harder to write believable characters? Sure,
shallow treatments are to be expected from a film industry where “relationship”
equals perspiration-free sex between virtually unmet and hairless runway models,
and where hopelessly clichéd characters serve as tropes to hide the writer’s
inability to form complete thoughts. But why screw up a perfectly good horror
flick by hinging the plot on yet another savant-child, yet another “independent
single mother”? The Ring didn’t need this tripe, just as Tarkovsky’s Solaris
didn’t need George Clooney’s ass. Why do we suck so bad? Rent the original,
then see the remake. It’ll give you a whole new perspective on the art of the
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