Dir: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Naomi Watts
, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox
This may be the first Hollywood remake that kicks the arse of its inspiration, but then, I was largely unimpressed by the original. Preserving the basic concept - a journalist hunting down the secret behind a videotape that causes the death of the viewer seven days later - the new version just seems a lot more streamlined, though it's actually 13 minutes longer. Go figure. It never quite manages a grand-slam home run, yet still scores plenty of hits, persistently loading the horror bases with little chills. Watts is a good choice for the journalist, and her committed belief in the tape is essential to infect the audience, though neither love interest and sidekick Henderson, nor irritatingly Sixth Sense-ish son Dorfman make much impact. Credit should go to Verbinski, showing genre talent unexpected from the director of Mouse Hunt and The Mexican, who turns simple things such as a buzzing fly into objects of menace. He avoids jokey asides, and nor does it self-destruct in the finale like Signs - indeed, I was particularly impressed with an ending that plays with the expected commercial happiness, before collapsing into something satisfactorily nasty. But how quaint, in this third millennium, to have a film reliant on the outdated technology of VHS. If there'd been a possessed DVD, the picture quality of the visions would have been so much better. Mind you, if two million people drop dead one week after the film opens, my opinion may well change...