2016 was a strong year for Korean cinema, particularly when it comes to genre stuff, with one of the most acclaimed films of the year being Na Hong-jin’s supernatural thriller The Wailing. It’s not a huge surprise, then, to hear that The Wailing is currently being eyed for a English language remake by Ridley Scott’s company Scott Free Productions. A Train to Busan remake has also been announced, but the difference is that movie has a much more straightforward premise. There is some concern over how well The Wailing might translate to an American audience. Head of Fox International Production (FIP) Korea, Hosung Kim had this to say about the project:
“They said The Wailing reminded them of films such as The Exorcist, The Ring and Seven. The locality and sensibility of The Wailing is so strong that I don’t think it would be easy to do a Western remake, and it will be important who directs it. So I told him I think the only director who could do the remake is Na Hong-jin. But we are still in early stages of talks.”
“What other country has such diverse religious beliefs as Korea? In The Wailing, you see not a Korean Buddhist monk, but a Japanese monk type of person, a shaman, Christianity, Catholicism, and diverse pagan and occult beliefs… It’s different from the religious worldview of the West where they have monotheism in Christianity. So when you are tossed a question about faith, would the emotional response be as intrinsic as for Koreans? Of course the reactions we had in Cannes and from overseas sales were of surprise, but that was because it was foreign culture to them. Would it work if the film were in their own language?”
It’s an interesting point and I think he’s right that the movie would not work as well if it was set in America. There is something about the rural setting and variety of beliefs that makes the supernatural stuff seem more convincing. That being said, I guess the good news is that they are at least aware of it and hopefully will only move forward with a remake if they can find a way to make it work. Would you like to see a U.S. remake of The Wailing?