7 American Horror Remakes Based On Scarier Foreign Movies – GameRant

Hollywood loves a horror remake, but the American versions are rarely as terrifying as the foreign originals.
While each culture might have its own societal fears, just as often those fears can be universal. Hollywood has a long tradition of taking foreign movies and remaking them for American audiences in English, and the horror genre is no exception. For any horror fan brave enough to sit through the same terror twice, comparing and contrasting a remake with its foreign original can be a fascinating, if heart-pounding, experience.
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The Hollywood remake and reimagining trend will likely never die out, even for horror. Sometimes this results in cheap scares that fail to capture the magic of the original, making American audiences confused as to what was so great about the source material in the first place. However, occasionally this can result in a truly terrifying film that is unlike anything American audiences have ever seen.
Japanese horror fiction has, over the decades, gained notoriety for its different take on the genre compared to Western media. One such example is Dark Water, a film that follows a divorced mother and her young daughter as they move into a rundown apartment where they experience a series of supernatural occurrences. The American remake, starring Jennifer Connelly, primarily boasts a claustrophobic atmosphere and unsettling tone above its traditional ghost story narrative.
The original closely follows the same story, though offers several deviations. Much of the plot is left ambiguous in the original film, so any audiences who find ambiguity scarier may want to turn to the Japanese original instead. Ambiguity combined with a chilling atmosphere makes the original Dark Water a terrifying entry in the J-horror genre, though with a personal tale that makes it a uniquely tragic entry as well.
Sometimes horror reimaginings miss the mark of what made the original great, making American audiences dismissive of what was once a good story. The English-language remake of the J-horror film Pulse is a great example of this. The remake tells the story of a psychology student who begins receiving disturbing messages and emails after her boyfriend commits suicide. What follows is a technology-driven horror story, and though having some original concepts, ultimately falls prey to traditional horror conventions and cliches.
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Part of the reason why the American version of Pulse failed is that it didn't quite adapt the plot of the original correctly. The Japanese version of Pulse follows two separate storylines that eventually converge; one follows a similar plotline to the remake, while the other involves a college student whose computer on its own continues to display disturbing images and websites. Unlike the American remake, the original Pulse relies far more heavily on suggestion, creating an unnerving atmosphere in two unique and creepy stories.
Shot-for-shot remakes are rare, and they even more rarely come from the same filmmaker. However, Michael Haneke's American update of his own Austrian film is one worth experiencing, if audiences can stomach it. Funny Games follows a family of three as they take a vacation in their lake home. While there, their home is invaded by two young men who proceed to psychologically torment them through the night. A dark and twisted film, Funny Games certainly isn't for everyone. Aside from its bleak tone, it uses devastating fourth-wall breaks and genre trope subversions as a means of criticizing violence in American media.
Of course, it didn't originally reach American audiences. Haneke, being Austrian himself, originally made the film in his native language. However, he had intended it for American audiences, so when the film never reached his target audience, he remade it shot-for-shot, this time entirely in English. Despite subtle differences, both the 1997 and 2007 versions of Funny Games are fundamentally the same. Both are grim and disturbing looks at how Hollywood sensationalizes violence, but audiences should be warned that they each stray far from the conventions of typical horror-thriller movies.
The found footage subgenre of horror has grown stale at this point, largely due to franchises like Paranormal Activity outstaying their welcome. However, there are some movies that get it right. In Quarantine, a reporter tags along with a group of firemen as they investigate an apartment building where a mutated strain of rabies is discovered to have infected its inhabitants. As the government quarantines the building, the reporter attempts to escape the building. Probably most notable about Quarantine is its atmosphere; taking place primarily in a single location, Quarantine uses claustrophobia and a focus on sound over music to elicit genuine scares from its audience.
While Quarantine may be scary, its Spanish predecessor can be downright terrifying. Released under the title REC, the original follows a similar plot to the original, though with a more supernatural element tied to its virus, leading to a different (and arguably scarier) ending. REC, unlike its remake, is actually considered to be one of the best found footage horror movies, making it a must-watch for any fan of the genre.
While some remakes adapt their originals closely, others change their look and style so drastically that they almost become two entirely different films. Such is the case with Suspiria, director Luca Guadagnino's reimagining of Dario Argento's Italian original following the story of a young woman who joins a German dance academy that is run by a coven of witches. Suspiria displays a bleak depiction of its narrative, with muted colors and detailed imagery adding to a sense of dread built throughout the film. That being said, the reaction to the film was divided, to say the least.
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While the 1977 original has essentially the same plot, it stylistically feels like a different movie. As opposed to Guadagnino's limited use of vivid colors, the original Suspiria is noted for its use of vibrant colors, often to a nightmarish effect. Alongside a more visually surreal take on the story, the original is significantly shorter, running for a mere 99 minutes as opposed to its 152-minute remake. Nevertheless, Argento's Suspiria was also released to a mixed response, but the film has since become a cult classic and a huge influence in the horror genre. Perhaps, in time, the remake will follow in its footsteps.
Here is a horror film that is simultaneously sweet and scary at the same time. The romantic-horror film follows a young boy who befriends and falls in love with a young vampire. Even over a decade later, Let Me In remains a fresh spin on the classic vampire story. Featuring scenes of emotional sincerity and scenes of downright terror, it manages to blend romance and horror in such a way that neither overtakes the other, making it one unique horror movie.
Apart from the success of the remake, Let Me In was originally made in Sweden under the title Let the Right One In. Much like its American remake, the Swedish original mixes emotion and horror uniquely, making something beautiful out of something traditionally seen as horrific. Like the American remake, Let the Right One In was highly successful with both critics and audiences.
Arguably one of the more well-known American horror remakes, The Ring revolves around a journalist who is attempting to discover the truth behind a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it. The 2004 remake stars Naomi Watts and focuses on creating creepy images and an unsettling atmosphere over simplistic horror tropes. As a result, it became one of the more critically and financially successful horror remakes, eventually spawning two sequels.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about The Ring will recall that it's a remake of a Japanese horror movie released in 1998. Titled Ringu or simply Ring, the original follows essentially the same plot and, like its successor, was acclaimed and became an international success. Ringu helped popularize J-horror worldwide, but more importantly, serves as a great example of how a horror remake can be just as creepy and effective as its original.
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List writer for Gamerant, also runs a personal blog, screenstarreviews.com


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