As a general rule, American remakes of foreign-language films are pretty redundant, both in concept and execution. Why make the film with an American cast when the original film is already there to be seen with the aid of subtitles? Famously, when Michael Haneke was tasked with remaking his Austrian home-invasion thriller Funny Games, he replicated every scene in exactly the same way; as if to comment on the very pointlessness of the endeavor. Nonetheless Hollywood can’t help itself: a Toni Erdmann remake was nearly in production before Jack Nicholson pulled out while a remake of Force Majeure comes out very soon. Now the latest breakout foreign film to be in early talks for the Hollywood treatment is Parasite, Bong Joon–ho’s genre-shifting masterpiece that has taken the States by storm.
You’d think Hollywood would’ve learned their lesson by now. Bong Jong-Ho seemed to allude to the idea of a remake with his Golden Globe speech after winning for Best Foreign picture, saying, via translation: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Politely telling audiences to learn how to read, it seems that Bong would rather no one touched his film at all.
Yet for every rule there are some significant exceptions. The Departed may be a remake of Infernal Affairs, but Martin Scorsese found a way to make the material uniquely his; showing what can happen if the right director is in charge of a Hollywood remake. Parasite is almost untouchable and should probably be left alone. Yet if anyone was to touch it, at all, it should probably be David Fincher. Here’s why.
He Has Already Made A Similar Film Before
David Fincher knows Panic Room is not his best film. Coming directly after the incendiary and era-defining Fight Club, Fincher himself said that it is a “footnote” and a “guilty pleasure” movie. Despite not having as much thematic richness as Parasite – which weaves the home invasion genre with social satire, familial drama and the comedy-of-errors – Panic Room still shows what Fincher is capable of pulling off with a small amount of space and a hermetically-sealed purpose-built set.
Given that much of the pleasure from watching Parasite resides in its production design and the way space is manipulated through camerawork, Fincher’s Panic Room credentials shows that he is uniquely equipped to make a Western adaption actually work. Similarly his Parasite would build the house from the ground up, loaded with specifically American details that seek not to replicate the Korean setting but to make something significantly distinct.
He Knows How To Remake Foreign Films Already
Along with The Departed, Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a remake of a Swedish film with the same name, is one of those rare Hollywood remakes with more energy and verve than the original. Despite setting the movie in Sweden with American and British actors, Fincher’s remake successfully conveys the sordidness of Steig Larsson’s novel while imparting his own personal twist on the material. With a better sense of forward momentum and uncovering even deeper horrors than the first movie, Fincher does not aim merely to replicate but to make things better, something that would make his remake of Parasite something to actually look forward to as opposed to a shameless cash cow.
In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fincher also displays his mastery of perspective, allowing us to truly see through the eyes of Lisbeth Salander in a way the original film didn’t. This subtlety of technique serves him in good stead for a Parasite remake, getting us into the head of each lower-class character as they worm their way into the richer family’s house.
He Has A Sly Sense of Humour Right for the Material
Fincher’s films seem deadly serious; concerned with killers, cheaters, deviants and anarchists. Yet he can also be deeply playful, with twists and turns that rival Bong Joon-Ho’s characteristic sudden shifts in mood. Whether its the ending of Fight Club, which manages to make the destruction of buildings containing credit card records both grandiose and humorous, or the mind-bending conclusion to The Game, which lets us know that nearly everything we experienced before was actually an illusion, Fincher’s twists do not feel like cheats. Rather, like Bong’s Parasite, they feel of a piece with the material, naturally springing out the narrative like there was really no other option.
A Parasite remake has to bear in mind that Bong’s film is a constantly shifting object with deep lurches between drama and comedy, often within the same scene. Go too far in one direction and you lose the vibe entirely. Other American directors may be too inclined to underline either the serious or comic elements. Fincher has always found a way to nestle them inside each other, making him perhaps the only person who could really do Bong’s vision justice.
His Obsessive Control of Tone Complements Bong’s Style
Home invasion thrillers are a dime a dozen across the world. Yet Parasite cannot quite be characterized as one. Neither can it be characterised as a social satire, mystery or farce; although it contains elements of all three. The joy of Parasite is the way it cannot be neatly pigeonholed, leading critics to breathlessly call it a genre unto itself. This kind of mastery looks easy, but in fact requires a complete obsession with maintaining formal consistency while constantly changing in tone.
Who else could even mount this kind of challenge than the man behind Zodiac, Gone Girl and Seven, films which contain moments of levity and humanity among murder and depravity but are held together by an obsessive level of formal consistency? With that in mind, it seems that David Fincher may be the only American director who not only could remake Parasite well, but actually find a fresh angle on the material in the process. To make it even better, Gillian Flynn – the scribe behind Gone Girl – should be drafted in to write the screenplay.
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