Don’t Look Up (Fruit Chan, 2009)
Had you told me in 2008 that Hollywood would import Fruit Chan, the director of the phenomenal little flick Dumplings, to do Yet Another Asian Horror remake, I’d have laughed at you. If you then told me that Chan would bungle the movie almost completely, I probably would have been laughing so hard I wouldn’t have been able to breathe.
And yet here we are with Don’t Look Up, a remake of Hideo Nakata’s 1996 flick Jôyu-rei. And it is almost as horrible as the critics would have you believe.
Plot: a film crew working on a low-budget horror picture (why can’t film crews in horror films ever be working on, say, a lavish costume drama?) discovers footage of a much older film shot in the same location by cult director Bela Olt (Inglorious Bastards‘ Eli Roth), who, according to the local folklore, went insane during filming, as did most of the surviving cast and crew after one cataclysmic night of bloodshed. Of course, the present-day film crew, headed up by equally obsessed director Marcus Reed (The Hills Have Eyes II‘s Reshad Strik) and producer Josh Petri (Gangs of New York‘s Henry Thomas), puts no stock in such stories…but after they view the old footage, strange things start occurring on the set…is the ghost of lead actress Lila Kis (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan‘s Rachael Murphy), or the witch she was portraying in that old film, haunting the new production?
All of which sounds good. And by all rights, from everything I’ve heard, it is good, when directed by Hideo Nakata. But this? This is just another bad re-tread, made all the worse for being directed by a guy who is, when not working within the confines of Hollywood, one of Japan’s most innovative, witty directors. How did this go so horribly wrong? We may never know the answer to that question, but there can be no argument about the fact that something certainly did. Perhaps the production was haunted by the spectre of Yasuyo Shirashima? **