Last year's release of Spike Lee's Oldboy did little to inspire confidence in American remakes of Asian films, as the Josh Brolin-led mystery thriller flopped hard at the box office and was met with a tepid response from critics. The horror genre in particular frequently finds filmmakers raiding the World Cinema shelves in search of their next plot, and the few examples of great remakes don't quite make up for the flood of bad ones.
Nonetheless it's important try and resist a kneejerk negative response as details regarding another US remake of a Korean film come to light. I Saw the Devil, Kim Jee-woon's twisted and violent story of revenge, has a remake in development by screenwriter Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard, who have previously collaborated on horror films like You're Next and V/H/S.
I Saw the Devil is a cat and mouse tale about a secret service agent (Lee Byung-hun) whose fiancée is brutally murdered and dismembered by a serial killer (Oldboy's Choi Min-sik), and who decides to take his revenge through the relentless pursuit and torture of the killer. Producer Adi Shankar announced that Wingard and Barrett had joined the project in a vlog, adding that Snoot Entertainment (the production company behind Wingard and Barrett's latest collaborative effort The Guest) has also boarded the I Saw the Devil remake. According to The Wrap, Wingard has already begun to meet with actors and Barrett is currently working on the script.
The Guest, which sees Wingard and Barrett branching out into the thriller genre with a story about a mysterious stranger who inserts himself into the life of a grieving nuclear family, has received overwhelmingly positive reviews since it premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. You're Next was also praised by critics for taking the somewhat stale home invasion horror trope and turning it on its head.
While they seem most at home with material that has an underlying comic edge, Wingard and Barrett are a strong filmmaking team and their version of I Saw the Devil could potentially be an interesting new take on the story. A lot of remakes suffer from adhering too slavishly to the source material, and the almost oppressively grim story of I Saw the Devil could easily benefit from some of Barrett and Wingard's wry humor.
Are you willing to give this remake a chance, or do you think I Saw the Devil should have been left alone?
We'll keep you updated on I Saw the Devil as development continues.