Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't Look Up

Asian Horror Remake


By David Luhrssen
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American remakes of East Asian horror films are never as good as the originals. Recent example: Donít Look Up (out on Blu-ray and DVD), which transforms a 1996 Hong Kong movie into a tsunami of fake blood more horrible than horrifying.‚Ä®

Genre buffs might still be interested in Donít Look Up for its story idea. It has potential. Marcus Reed (Henry Thomas) plays a Hollywood scary movie director whose career is slipping. He sees apparitions, has strange nightmares and often ignores doctorís orders, fearing that medication will steal his sensitivity to the traumatic impressions left behind by past events.

Marcus is fascinated by a lost 1920s Hungarian horror film and convinces a hectoring producer to finance a ďreimaginedĒ version on a tight budget. As everyone knows, itís cheap to make movies in Romania and better still, the studio where the original was filmed still standsómake that leans in a crumbling state of near collapse.

Marcusí movie is based on a medieval Transylvanian legend of a Gypsy girl tortured and murdered for being in league with the devil. Her dying curses must have jinxed the original production and haunt the set of the remake. Visually interesting, occasionally chilling scenes occur in the old studio, especially the dark hovering face sometimes captured on film. But Donít Look Up becomes too explicit too soon, and squanders any opportunity for the audience to wonder if the apparitions are the product of Marcusí psychosis. Horror should be imaginative by nature, yet the makers of Donít Look Up donít trust the imagination of the audience and underline every twitch of the plot in lurid colors.

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