Western remakes of Asian films are all the rage these days, with the movie community still recovering from Spike Lee’s ho-hum take on Park Chan-Wook’s OLDBOY and an announced English-language adaptation of Gareth Evans’ cult action hit THE RAID: REDEMPTION on the way. Now Kim Jee-Woon’s I SAW THE DEVIL joins the list. One of 2010’s most chilling films, I SAW THE DEVIL tells the grisly story of a South Korean intelligence agent (G.I. JOE’s Lee Byung-Hun) on the hunt for the serial killer (played by OLDBOY’s Choi Min-Sik) who murdered his pregnant fiancée. Violent, visceral, absolutely terrifying and with plenty of vivid imagery, the film was generally well-received when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and during its theatrical release. Last year, when an English language remake was announced, there was no word yet on who would be at the helm of the project. Today it has been revealed that the team behind gory horror flick YOU’RE NEXT, writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard, will take the reins.
Barrett and Wingard are certainly no strangers to the genre. The two have worked together on multiple horror projects, with Barrett usually writing and Wingard directing. They are responsible for THE ABC’S OF DEATH, along with contributions to V/H/S and V/H/S 2. The two are fresh off of making THE GUEST, a thriller starring DOWNTON ABBEY’s Dan Stevens as a soldier who introduces himself to the family of one of his fallen comrades, only to turn out to be not quite what he seems. It was the duo’s enthusiasm for the horror genre and genuine love for I SAW THE DEVIL that made them the perfect team to tackle the remake, according to Adi Shankar (DREDD, LONE SURVIVOR), one of the producers of the upcoming film.
While it’s certainly too early to tell whether the project is in good hands, it’s safe to say that everyone involved seems aware of the pressure to do the film justice. Not only will it be a challenge to mimic, let alone top, Kim Jee-Woon’s masterful balance of storytelling and engaging visuals, but Wingard and Barrett may have to overcome some cynicism regarding the quality of Western remakes of foreign language films.