A man who is down on his luck gets a phone call out of the blue, offering him one thousand dollars -- all he has to do is kill an irritating fly! 13 Sins, opening in select theaters today, takes off from there, as the desperate man (Mark Webber) is tempted into a diabolical game that quickly turns deadly; Ron Perlman also stars as a police detective who takes more than the usual interest in the game.
The independently produced 13 Sins is a remake of a horror movie from Thailand, the latest in a long line of American remakes of Asian horror thrillers. What are the best (and the worst) of these remakes?
The Ring (2002)
Hideo Nakata's 1998 original was a stone-cold chiller, and Gore Verbinski's remake stuck closely to its source material. Despite some unnecessary embellishments, evidently intended to clarify and explain the ghostly proceedings, the carefully cultivated atmosphere of dread, and a couple of shocking images, held sway and scared audiences out of their seats.
Dark Water (2005)
Again based on a Japanese-language film by Hideo Nakata, this time Brazilian director Walter Salles took the helm, and surrounded Jennifer Connelly with a top-flight cast, including John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott and Pete Postlethwaite. The story of a mother and her daughter, haunted by their own troubled past and the ghostly presence of former residents of a broken-down apartment building, proved to be more powerful than expected.
The Grudge (2004)
Director Takashi Shimizu remade his own 2002 original, transferring the anxious atmosphere and surly ghosts into a slightly rejiggered setting. Sarah Michelle Gellar acquitted herself admirbly, which bolstered the film at the U.S. box office and ensured more sequels to come.
One Missed Call (2008)
To be fair, the Japanese-language original was not much more than a conventional suspense piece from the oft-subversive filmmaker Takashi Miike. The remake, however, plunged deeply into the abyss, removing decent material with substandard stereotypical sequences, and the cast flailed, resulting in a film completely lacking in suspense, tension and thrills.
The Uninvited (2009)
A strong cast, including Arielle Kebbel, Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks and David Straithairn, could not save this misbegotten remake of the Korean thriller A Tale of Two Sisters. The original fully developed its adult themes and made effective use of explicit violence. The remake dulled the edges in order to secure a PG-13 rating, and failed to find any equivalent thrills in its replacement material.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa adapted his own novel for a 2001 film and created a stomach-churning atmosphere of dread as ghostly spirits began to invade the earthly realm. A piercing sense of alienation, isolation and loneliness made it a completely unnerving film to experience. The remake cherry-picked the more sensational imagery and made hash of the deep emotional heft of the original, reducing it to a shallow series of "gotcha" moments, despite a game performance by Kristen Bell.