There is a virus spreading throughout Hollywood. Symptoms include lack of original ideas and an overwhelming desire to make money while sacrificing artistic integrity. This virus is most commonly known as the remake.
There's no denying that the amount of remakes that have invaded movie screens over the past decade is excessive. While some focus on giving original films a new "twist," others are just lusting after the same financial success that came with the original.
Although there are respectable films being produced that make their way to film festivals and the Oscars, this trend of remakes overshadows the good. Even more perplexing is the fact that Hollywood is not only recreating its own original movies, but the works of foreign countries. In many cases producers edit the storyline to their liking, make the characters more mainstream and stereotypical and ultimately reconstruct a film that didn't need to be tampered with in the first place.
In 2008, the horror film Quarantine was released to lukewarm reception. This film tells the story of a reporter and her camera crew following a group of firemen as they respond to an apartment building in distress. What unravels is a rabies-esque virus infecting the tenants and everyone else inside. They are eventually quarantined within the building with little idea of what exactly is happening.
This isn't a terrible plot. The real question, however, is why this film was made. Just a year before, a film was released in Spain called REC – which happens to have the exact same plot. Unlike Quarantine, REC is considered one of the best horror films of the past few years. But most Americans only know about its lesser remake.
The film industry should consider exposing America to quality foreign films rather than reproducing low-grade remakes. It's true – Americans are capable of reading subtitles.
Even big name stars are getting in on this craze. Just last year Oscar winners Adrian Brody and Forrest Whittaker starred in The Experiment, a remake of the German film Das Experiment. It tells the story of a group of men who undergo an experiment in a prison setting in which half are inmates and half are guards, based on the psychological study known as "the Stanford experiment." The original film is both psychologically intriguing and suspenseful.
The Hollywood directors of the remake pushed the Quarantine formula one step further in The Experiment, taking their own creative liberties and altering the entire ending and significance of the film. While their effort to make a somewhat original product is a bit more commendable than most remakes, the changes were still completely pointless.
It doesn't look like studios and filmmakers intend to quit this method any time soon. A production of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is already up and running even though the Swedish film trilogy is already completed and acclaimed. We can only hope the industry will realize the waste of time and money that is being spent with the flops they are creating.
But as viewers we can fight back. Watch the originals, seek out films with new ideas and embrace subtitles. There's a remarkable world of film outside of Hollywood that doesn't need to depend on remakes.