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Exclusive: “SEANCE’s” Simon Barrett on what happened to the “I SAW THE DEVIL” remake

Monday, May 17, 2021 | Exclusives, News


It was about seven years ago that the announcement came down: The YOU’RE NEXT/THE GUEST team of director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett were tackling a remake of Kim Jee-woon’s savage 2010 serial killer film I SAW THE DEVIL. It seemed a perfect marriage of filmmakers and material, but it never wound up happening; the duo instead moved on to another reboot, 2016’s BLAIR WITCH, and Wingard helmed two more Asian adaptations, DEATH NOTE (2017) and this year’s GODZILLA VS. KONG. On the eve of the release of his own directorial debut SEANCE, RUE MORGUE asked Barrett what happened to the DEVIL double.

“I worked on the script for that for a while,” he tells us, “but I don’t know what’s happening with that project at this stage. I think it’s likely not going to ever get made, and that’s probably OK. I wrote the first draft and then did a few rewrites years ago, and everyone seemed to be feeling positive about the script itself, but it wasn’t an inexpensive prospect. And we didn’t want to make some inferior version of the original; obviously the goal was to make a different take on the same premise that could stand alongside the Korean movie in terms of quality while being its own thing.

“But the original isn’t a low-budget film, and it was a box-office flop in Korea and then a very small release in most other countries,” Barrett points out. “So a remake wasn’t the safest proposition for a studio, but we couldn’t do the cheap, indie version; you couldn’t make I SAW THE DEVIL with the budget of THE GUEST. It would be a much different movie. And that was basically that.”

Barrett adds that there was studio interest in the DEVIL redux at one point, “but they were thinking of it as a potential PG-13 action movie, and you can imagine our reaction to that. I’d love to be the guy who wrote both BLAIR WITCH and the PG-13 U.S. remake of I SAW THE DEVIL; I wouldn’t be able to go out in public! I’d be publicly beaten at film festivals and horror conventions, and deservedly so. So we said no to that offer, and haven’t had any since, to my knowledge. And like I said, maybe that’s fine; the world has a great I SAW THE DEVIL, maybe it didn’t need ours and we should be writing more original projects. That’s how I took it, anyway. I know there are other filmmakers who love the original and would like to remake it. I believe Scott Derrickson is a pretty vocal fan, and I’m sorry if we ruined that, but hey, at least you don’t have to clarify which I SAW THE DEVIL you’re talking about when you recommend it to people now.”

Stay tuned for our interview with Barrett on SEANCE this week!

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).