Admittedly the news that Paramount has abandoned their remake of Paranormal Activity in favor of releasing an original film for a change is interesting news, but within the same Variety profile of Steven Schneider (one of their "10 Producers to Watch") baring that particular revelation is even cooler news. Oddly enough what has me all a flutter is not even buried deep within the article, it's in the opening sentence, "With "Paranormal Activity" readying to open via Paramount and a raft of projects poised at other venues -- including "The Colony" at Participant, "Sacred Prey" at Warner Bros. and "13: Game of Death" at Dimension -- Steven Schneider may become the dark genre's warlock of choice."
Wait a sec. "13: Game of Death" at Dimension"? Apparently I'm the only one who cares about the accidental announcement that a remake of the coolest genre movie to come out of Thailand in years is no longer just hypothetical. I know the rights to 13:GOD were purchased by the Weinsteins well over a year ago, but such behavior is not out of the norm (buying the remake rights to obscure foreign films is a morning ritual for those two). As expected, there has been zero visible movement towards making the film a reality until now. And considering one of Variety's "10 Producers to Watch For" is involved, I'd say it finally has a fighting chance to see the light of day. And a fighting chance is precisely what Chukiat Sakveerakul's film deserves. 13: Game of Death is not only a title that could survive an Americanization, but I'd argue it's aptly suited to our Western ways, particularly during these times of economic strife. There is no better time than now to make a film about an underpaid office drone in desperate need for cash to support the escalating costs of his home as well as his dying mother who begins receiving anonymous phone calls that promise financial rewards so long as he does everything the caller asks. As the amounts of the rewards soar, so does the difficulty of the challenges, and our office drone begins to care less about his new riches and more about who exactly is on the other end of the phone.
Tell me that's not perfect for American audiences. It's a topical, finance-driven 'What If?' scenario that thematically has all the stylistic puzzling and plot twists of most recently successful Hollywood horror films. Frankly, I'm surprised it hasn't been remade sooner (the original came out in Thailand in 2006), and, unfortunately, this tiny spec of revealed progress is obviously not enough to guarantee production. Yet I remain optimistic.
I'm also not worried about the quality of a cash-incentivized remake. Normally I'd balk at the idea of remaking a favorite film of mine, but 13: Game of Death happens to be conducive to the process. It would be hard to make a poor version of such an easy and inherently thrilling story. It also should be a no-brainer for a cash-strapped studio like Dimension Films. I'm no box office insider, but I can't imagine a movie that essentially only has one star and no need for massive special effects would cost more than half of what they squandered on Rob Zombie's Halloween 2. Even if I'm completely wrong about it having all the symptoms of a word-of-mouth hit, the fiscal barrier to entry is so low that profits are about as guaranteed as they get these days. And it doesn't take an accounting wunderkind to know that Dimension is hurting for quick profits these days.
All it's going to take to make 13: Game of Death a success is someone actually stepping up to the plate with a small check book. Should that person remain Steven Schneider, the man who had the good sense to abandon a pointless Hollywoodization of a distinctly non-Hollywood film, well, that's just all the more reason to be excited.