NOVEMBER 4, 2012
In my review of Who Can Kill A Child?, I theorized that the film would never be remade, since a. it was relatively obscure (most remakes are only made because of their name value) and b. it featured a lot of graphic violence both on and by children, which is a huge no-no these days since everyone's so PC. Thus, I was pretty surprised to discover that Come Out And Play was indeed a remake of the film (though its credits say it's based on the novel, not on Serrador's 1976 feature), and curious what it would bring to the table, as well as how the social commentary would apply to a modern setting.
Well, guess what? It doesn't bring a damn thing to that metaphorical table other than a shorter length. If anyone claims this is a "re-imagining" or some other buzzword, feel free to smack their mouth for lying, as this is one of the laziest, creativity-starved remakes I've seen in quite some time, to the extent where I often wondered if they were using the same script as the original. There are some minor changes in the beginning, but otherwise the only real difference is that it's shorter. Writer/producer/director/DP MAKINOV (yes, more on him soon) drops a few of the original's scenes, such as the human piñata bit, as well as the (admittedly overlong) documentary footage opening that hammered home the original's "war has caused this!" message, but adds nothing to take their place.
There might be a few other minor changes as well (it's been over three years), but for all intents and purposes, this is the same movie. At no point was I surprised by anything, and even things that I thought for SURE he would change, like the idiotic scene where the wife crashes the car to prevent her husband from running down a few of the kids that are trying to kill them, are recreated practically shot for shot. Nor does he bother updating the story for a modern day; cell phones, the Internet - i.e. anything that might actually help/hinder them once they're on the island - is simply ignored. I don't THINK it was supposed to be a period piece (since the hero offers a few thousand bucks as a deposit for the boat rental, I can't imagine it would be set in the 70s), but if so it just makes me even more puzzled why MAKINOV would bother hiring a crew, a recognizable actress (Vinessa Shaw), etc. merely to remake an obscure film without any notable changes whatsoever.
Then again, why question a guy who calls himself MAKINOV (yes, the caps seem to be part of it) and allegedly directed the entire film while wearing a red mask (you can see it below in the intro that played before the movie), thus preventing his true identity from being known to his cast and crew? Rumors abound that the filmmaker is actually an established director who is pulling some sort of Banksy/Joaquin Phoenix type performance art on us (my guess? Nacho Vigalondo), but if so - what exactly is the joke or point? And further, how does remaking a movie sans any new ideas (and stripping it of its context - there's no war or anything "real world" mentioned here) fit into the concept? If it was, say, an angry horror fan who was doing this as a way of demonstrating how dumb the remake machine has gotten, I'd say bravo (even if he was a bit too late - now it's all about found footage!), but we know nothing about him other than the fact that he... well, wears a red mask and directs pointless remakes. His IMDb page has six credits, all for this movie, and searches for his name turn up only reviews of this film and the two intros (the one below is for AFI; there's another that he did for Fantastic Fest).
That said, the movie itself is fine if you haven't seen the original, much like I'm sure Psycho 1998 doesn't seem too bad to someone who hasn't seen Hitchcock's. It's well made, MAKINOV has a fondness for directing around corners and such that adds a bit to the uneasiness, and even if I've seen it before, watching a guy whack a bunch of evil murderous children around with a boat oar can't NOT be a bit entertaining (keep in mind I'm not a parent yet; to me kids are those little folks that keep me from seeing a few friends who have spawned). Shaw and Ebon Moss-Bachrach had a nice chemistry (though I still wish Tom Jane was playing the lead in the redux), and the kids were appropriately menacing - the scene where they "turn" a few kids that had somehow been unaffected until then remains incredibly creepy, and it wouldn't be pulled off if the kids were over-acting (see: The Omen remake) or simply bad actors.
But in a way, all that just makes this movie all the more frustrating and disappointing. They had talent on and off camera, but it all went to waste on a script that couldn't be bothered to make a single real change of any significance, and are seemingly counting on the original film's relative obscurity to secure a pass from a modern audience. To me that is basically ENCOURAGING ignorance, and I find that insulting. Even the Long Weekend remake (which LITERALLY used the same script, or at least, the same screenwriter) added modern technology issues and a few shifts in the character dynamic to create a slightly new experience - this doesn't even try to make a case for why it exists.
What say you?