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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

October 23, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Scary Movie Week continues: Remakes? What remakes?

I’m going to re-watch “Psycho” this weekend; it’s been a while, and maybe the best way to get those screechy violins out of my head is to immerse myself in them. And that gets me thinking a bit about horror remakes. Why do they never work? Remakes aren’t necessarily disasters (though my dear Dad disagrees with me, I think the recent “Ocean’s 11” is way better than the original), but in the horror genre, they usually are. The “Psycho” remake was sort of an interesting idea, maybe, but didn’t fly at all; the remake of “The Haunting” from a few years back was a mess; and nearly all of the recent Japan-to-Hollywood horror flicks (“The Grudge,” “The Ring,” “The Eye,” etc.) have suffered in translation.
Here’s one that didn’t: “Dark Water,” originally a Japanese film directed by Hideo Nakata and then an American remake directed by Walter Salles, works just fine in both languages. It’s a stylish, cerebral film whose scares lie in anticipation — in what we think we’re going to see — and in the way that something simple, like unexpected water, can be terrifying. I’m not sure if the Japanese version ever got a U.S. release (I remember seeing it at the Seattle International Film Festival, maybe six or seven years ago), and I think the American version, which starred Jennifer Connelly and John C. Reilly, was too subtle to find a wide audience. Either one’s a good bet, if you’re looking to be scared this weekend.
And, while we’re on the subject — any horror remakes that you’ve liked? Surely I’m forgetting something decent. Any horror movies that seem ripe for a smart remake? Anything else scaring you? Happy weekend, all.

Here’s the U.S. “Dark Water.” It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I remember that dank apartment very well; creepy, creepy stuff.

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