Final Cut Is a Fine Remake If You’ve Never Seen the Original

Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

Twelve years ago, Michel Hazanaviciuswas made a (mostly) silent film. It was a movie that surprised a lot of people, especially film producers, I would think, who didn’t understand Hazanavicius’ passion for the project, a love letter to the pictures made in the ’20s and ’30s. In 2011, a silent film shouldn’t have worked, but somehow, it slipped into the modern zeitgeist and was adored by critics and audiences. It won multiple film festival awards and took home the Oscar that year for Best Picture. The Artist was the work of a true visionary in both writing and directing and the reason I was anticipating zom-com, Final Cut (Coupez!).  

A bloodied woman is constrained by a man in a floral shirt and a woman in Final Cut
Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

When the film crew making a half-hour single-take zombie movie is suddenly attacked by real, undead zombies, their obsessive director sees it as an opportunity to use his actors’ fear and makes it a point that no one stops rolling the entire time. The film plays in two parts, the thirty-minute diegetic film and the behind-the-scenes events leading up to and through its production. Sound familiar? Final Cut is the French remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s 2017 film One Cut of the Dead, and a relatively faithful adaptation, which doesn’t always work in the film’s favor.  

Final Cut premiered at Cannes in May of 2022 and has received mostly positive reviews from critics, but I may have done myself a disservice in deciding to watch One Cut of the Dead ahead of my review for Final Cut. The films are so similar they are almost mirror images. So, watching Final Cut after One Cut of the Dead was not unlike catching Gus van Sant’s Psycho after seeing the Hitchcock version and constantly comparing the latter to the former. 

During Final Cut’s second half of the film, the diegetic film’s director Rémi (Romain Duris) is implicitly told that he must stay true to the original movie’s script, making the movie slightly more meta by incorporating one of the original Japanese producers (Donguri) into the film and insisting that the film is a remake. In some ways, I admire the idea of making the film as if it were a worldwide challenge, and we’re awaiting the next iteration from the next country. But we’re not talking about a thirty-second meme. This one-hundred-and-twelve-minute movie only makes subtle changes and misses an opportunity to expand on Ueda’s original commentary concerning his passion for filmmaking by failing to consider the hype and nostalgic elements of what remakes mean to fans and crewmembers. Instead, Final Cut ends up a bit of a One Cut of the Dead echo instead.  

a woman covered in blood holding an ax in Final Cut
Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

Allow me to reuse my analogy here: Hitchcock’s Psycho is a cultural phenomenon, so taking it and remaking it is a difficult ask, regardless of who directed. While van Sant wanted to introduce younger moviegoers to Hitchcock, he didn’t silence his critics by making a scene-for-scene remake. Luckily Hazanaviciuswas isn’t adapting a zeitgeist film, so it’s more likely that there are people out there that haven’t seen, or maybe even know about, One Cut of the Dead and, what could end up being the case is whichever version you watch first could wind up being your preferred version of the film.  

To that effect, Oscar nominee Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) becomes delightfully unhinged, Duris is effectively comical, and the presence of Smoking Causes Coughing’s Jean-Pascal Zadi as a sound engineer is a welcome new addition. The whole cast looks like they’re having a blast by the end, and Hazanaviciuswas really directs the hell out of the film. The cinematography’s eye-popping colors are also notable, especially when the buckets of blood start being strewn about. However, there was something quite bothersome about how polished Final Cut is when its predecessor was about the joyous mayhem that comes from creating art. One Cut of the Dead feels way more underground and lavishly low budget, so when things during production start to go awry, it feels almost inevitable. Yet, the way the crew bands together seems more tangible and affects the audience deeper with much more heart. 

At the start of the review, I mentioned The Artist to highlight what Hazanaviciuswas is capable of in the films-about-films medium, but Final Cut feels a little off the mark. However, that criticism depends on the audience having seen One Cut of the Dead. If I had gone straight into Final Cut without seeing the source film first, I would have still enjoyed the ride. After all, the film still had me grinning from ear to ear by the end. And, though it may not be as inspired by comparison, Final Cut is still a well-done humorous romp about the ups and downs of movie production.  

The cast of Final cut crowd together, bloody,smiling, and laughing, one woman has an ax sticking out of her head.
Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

I’ve seen a lot of reviews online asking, “What was the point?” I think that’s unfair. It isn’t for me to decide how a movie gets made or to question why. Yes, One Cut of the Dead was first, and I think it remains the preferable version. But, in the case of Hazanaviciuswas, and maybe Gus van Sant too, I want to believe they’re taking the audience on a journey into a story they truly admire and want them to discover the joy it brings them. It may be the karaoke bar version of the film, but Hazanaviciuswas is a pretty good crooner all the same.  

Final Cut is playing in theaters beginning July 14. Pre-orders for Blu-Ray and DVDs releasing September 12 can be ordered through Kino Lorber. 

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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