Those of you following the conceptual development of my Chinese scenario, will likely find notions of an ersatz American Cinema something of an old hat: In short, I’ve been positing a cinema that *resembles* Hollywood fare, but is made outside of Hollywood – in Spain, in New Zealand, Australia and Vancouver – with or without American studio dollars, promotion and all the rest. In short, the kind of thing that usually goes straight-to-video and the SciFi Channel, before a layover in the Chinese bootlegging terminal.
A rash of these Hollywood/not-Hollywood type films landed in American cinemas this past winter – ‘Darkness’, an American film made in Spain with Miramax/Dimension dollars; ‘Boogeyman’ an American film made in New Zealand; ‘The Grudge’, the American remake of the Japanese ‘Ju-On’ ; ‘Hide and Seek’, incredibly enough, made here in the U.S.A., not to mention ‘Excorcist:The Beginning’ by Norweigan-born Renny Harlin and his yet-to-be-released ‘Mindhunters’.
What do most of these films have in common? Besides the fact that all but one of them were produced outside of the U.S. but marketed as the ‘real’ thing â€” many of them were re-makes of foreign films, and NONE of them had American Directors.
Granted, many of these films were American remakes of Asian horror-pieces, and the ones that worked best exhibited a fundamental understanding of a plot and a script. No such understanding is demonstrated in this sequel to 1999′s successful American remake of ‘The Ring’. ‘Ring 2′ was a double-disappointment, because this time out, the director of the original Japanese films was making his US debut. It was a triple-disappointment because the writer of the sequel was the same as that of the prior – Ehren Kruger – but the sequel sucked rocks. So what happened?
‘Ring 2′ was so bad that it began to eat away at the virtues of the first film during the last half-hour. I know that Kreuger wrote both films, and the director of the original Japanese versions directed this new film, but it honestly felt as though Chuck Austen had snuck onto the set to give Hideo Nakata tips on storytelling, or was mis-translating the Director’s instructions to the actors and the crew.
The movie felt like a Chinese bootleg, only in this case, they were working from a bootleged script to create a knock-off , imitation American movie. Somehow, I got the impression that the director didn’t understand the dynamics of English conversation – that the boy’s ‘Rachel’s – had the capacity to become grating. And/or that Nikata had been fed misinformation about Americans leaving dead people and animals scattered about our roadsides.
Sure, stuff like that happens in shithole movies like ‘Jeepers Creepers’, ‘Final Destination’ and all of their sequels, but suspension-of-disbelief apparently works in those movies’ favor.