Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I Boo You Not

Someone remind me what's the point of a remake again? A dearth of ideas? Thinking that one can do the job better? Don't laugh but one of the better Asian horror I've seen (probably amongst the first few too in recent years) was the Thai movie Shutter, which played on the plot device of spirit photography, those strange streaks of blurs that cover weird angles in a photograph, and with a vivid imagination, you can even make out faces of people you know, or know not.

There are remakes which challenge on the technical fronts - having to recreate scenes shot by shot, or those helmed by master directors in the hopes of injecting some depth into characterization and story. Some filmmakers even choose to remake their own films with a different cast (Funny Games anyone?), and the list goes on. But one thing's for sure, I seriously hope that the number of Asian horror remakes start to dwindle, given that the westernized versions pale in comparison to their Asian originals, and Shutter happens to be one of them.

OK, so perhaps half the fun was eliminated when you know just about every plot twist and turn, character motivation, and probably even what dialogue will come out of the actor's mouths (so I jest). But in all earnestness, I reckon that this remake will appeal more to those who have not seen the original. It's easy to be thoroughly bored because you know just what's about to come, and can eliminate red herrings, as well as spot the now-so-obviously subtle hints that the characters try to hide unsuccessfully.

Also, you can bet your last dollar that Hollywood will again go over the top in trying to explain everything verbatim, as well as attempting to up the ante with the finale, but in doing so, tried too hard. I do not deny that it was much needed tension too little too late toward the end, but really, it added nothing to the plot besides succeeding in making you squirm. Technically this remade version boasts nicer production values, but lacked the edginess that the original had to offer, well, because the directing duo of Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom were rookies then, and lacked certain horrific charm and soul (pardon the pun). In fact, there was one critical scene which the Thai version had which boasted some ingenuity in a tracking shot, but one which the remake had chickened out to do, opting instead for cheap CG and unnecessary cut-shots.

So the remade had blinked first, and didn't offer any really frightening moments to genuinely scare. Somehow I thought it was rather subtly pre-occupied with sex, given that you have a great looking cast with Joshua Jackson as Benjamin Shaw the photographer, and his newly wedded wife Jane Shaw, played by Rachael Taylor. For some reason, Japan gets automatically associated with Asian horror, and that's where this remake was set in, maybe because the director - Masayuki Ochiai - is Japanese too.

But the final straw which I found really disturbing, was the lack of acknowledgement that this is a remake. There's nothing in the opening credits to inform the audience that it is one (the original Thai directors given only producers credits), and probably tried to pass off as an original story. Recommended of course to those who have not seen the original (even then I'd suggest you only watch the Thai version). Those who have, are advised to steer clear.

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