For the first time eve, a Japanese horror remake is being directed by its original Japanese director. ''The studio wanted to bring Japanese taste to a Hollywood movie,'' says Shimizu through a translator. Gellar illuminates: ''In America we usually have this idea of horror movies -- the girl in the tank top, running in the woods,'' she says. ''One of the things I always loved about Japanese filmmaking is how different it is -- it's nonlinear, it leaves so much to the imagination. [Americans] like to say this movie is 'The Ring' with a house,' but it's not, it's more complicated than that.''
In a plot taken from Shimizu's 2003 creeper ''Ju-on,'' Gellar plays a caregiver in Tokyo who's sent to check in on the ultimate haunted house, where people die in a rage and leave behind a curse. Or something like that: Shimizu is wary of making things too clear in the movie. ''I thought the remake of ''The Ring'' was good, but I think it had too much explanation, and that made the movie less scary,'' he says. He's also been going back and forth with Sony over how much gore the movie should have: First it was not enough, then it was too much. But he laughs it off -- ''some stupid producers!'' it turns out, is one of the few phrases he's learned to say in English. WHAT'S AT STAKE If ''The Grudge'' is the next ''Ring,'' then Shimizu is the next Gore Verbinski, and he'd better improve those English skills fast. (Oct. 22)
No, it's not what you're thinking -- but when Jimmy Fallon first got the screenplay, the same thing crossed his mind. ''I was looking for Jim Ignatowski references,'' he says, ''but to the teen audience I don't think anyone will even know what that name means.'' Translation: This ''Taxi'' bears no relation to what Fallon calls ''my favorite sitcom ever'' (which featured Christopher Lloyd as Rev. Jim Ignatowski). Rather, it's based on one of France's all-time top movies, a Marseilles-set flick from 1998. In the U.S. version, bad-driving cop Fallon enlists Queen Latifah and her souped-up New York City cab to nab a band of Brazilian bank robbers -- who happen to be supermodels led by catwalker Bündchen. Quips Fallon: ''Based on a true story.''
Director Story (''Barbershop'') calls the action comedy ''kind of like 'Rush Hour,' a little bit of 'Midnight Run,' and then a little bit of '48 HRS.''' Which meant tons of improv by Fallon, Latifah, and Ann-Margret, who plays Fallon's boozy mom. Not to mention tons of car chases and shoot-outs. ''It was just like candy,'' says Fallon, who left his ''SNL'' ''Weekend Update'' days behind this spring. ''Every day you're on set you're just like, 'Okay, what's next? Oh, cool, I get to shoot a gun?! Great! I get to run while I'm shooting it?! Awesome!''' But the biggest commotion came when fans swarmed the movie's set last fall to catch a glimpse of its sexy star. And we don't mean Gisele. ''I'm going 'Jimmy Fallon?!''' Story says. ''I mean, you know, the guy's not ugly, but I was like, 'Jimmy Fallon?!''' WHAT'S AT STAKE Fallon's film career. Is he the next Will Ferrell? (Oct. 8)