Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Review - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

We were attempting a trifecta of movies the other night thanks to Lil’ Troublemaker falling asleep early. First was the disappointing but not bad by any means Monsters, then the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, then Inception.
I wrote a three page review of Monsters that I liked quite a bit. So much, in fact, that I accidentally fucking saved over it. So now all I have is this stupid review of a stupid movie that if you haven’t already seen, you probably don’t care about anyway. I am so fucking pissed about that review. Fuck. And I can’t even begin to rewrite it, because I’m only going to get even more pissed off about it.

Comcast’s OnDemand service fucked up about ten minutes before the end of Nightmare, so I had to spend fifteen minutes on the phone. One minute of that time was spent speaking with Vashni, Your Friendly English-As-A-Second-Language Operator. The other fourteen minutes were spent watching Avatar on HBO.
I have not yet seen Avatar in its entirety. After what I did see the other night, I’m not sure that I can. I mean, everybody does realize those blue things look hilarious, right? Like something out of a children’s cartoon, except nakeder. I honestly had to compose myself once Vashni picked up so that I could speak clearly (ironically) because I had been giggling the whole time. Yes, giggling like a little school girl; not just because of the silly-looking cat-monkeys cavorting about the absurdly CGI jungle, but also because of the nonstop gushing over this movie that is done by many very serious people. Not just people on the internet and stuff, people I know.
So now I guess I have to watch it. I have to know. If you’re curious, I dropped in at the part where Jake and the blue cat-monkey girl are fucking. Hi-larious!
Eventually, Vashni got his shit sorted out and credited our account. I’ll be curious to see how that turns out at the end of the month, because I’ve heard that line before. It usually necessitates another phone call.
Speaking of another phone call, once we finished Nightmare (well, I finished it. The missus fell asleep at some point) I wanted to watch Inception more than ever. I really needed some cinematic awesome to cleanse the hell out of my palate. Unfortunately, OnDemand shut off twice in the first fourteen minutes and I gave up. After the movie theater’s horrible fuck-up with The Dark Knight on opening night, I will never tolerate Nolanus-interruptus again.
So what about A Nightmare on Elm Street?
I have stated time and again that I feel the same way about remakes that Nike feels about you buying their shoes: Just Do It! So long as the original work remains available and unaltered, nothing you can do will harm it for a true fan. I think anybody who uses the term, “Raped my childhood” should be face-raped by Hayden Christensen (picture that – like as soon as the words come out of their mouth, Anakin Skywalker just appears out of nowhere, grabs their head and does the deed. You know at least a couple of people you’d like to see that happen to). Then they might think twice before using that overly ugly term again.
We all know the story of Wes Craven’s original Nightmare, so I don’t need to go into the plot here. What differences there are don’t matter at all because honestly, this movie doesn’t matter at all.
Jackie Earle Haley would make a great Freddy Krueger if the circumstances were right. Those circumstances would have to be: 1) the people writing the movie were any good at writing movies 2) Robert Englund had never been Freddy Krueger.
I’m sorry. I am a huge fan of Haley in Watchmen and on Human Target but there is no way you can follow Robert Englund in the way that this movie tried to make it happen. Supposedly this was a darker Freddy (a darker pedophile? Really?) that didn’t crack jokes or laugh or use pizzas to kill people. Yes, his actions are more serious, but there is still that smirkiness to the character that so dominated the later movies. Nobody can do that but Robert Englund. If Krueger had been treated utterly seriously we might have gotten somewhere. The flashback scenes of his pre-flambé interactions with the children are the scariest thing about the whole movie because there is no cleverness or joke-making there.
So Haley was very good, but just didn’t have the right story to tell. He did have this new little thing he did with his finger-blades where he swished the first two together and made a creepy little noise. That was cool.
The script is horrible. This movie is full of perfectly good actors, something that may be surprising; but it is true. There honestly wasn’t a bad performance in the movie, everybody just had to share the terrible dialogue.
There were a few clever things about the movie. I liked the variation of the last shot from Craven’s original, several of the murders happened just differently enough to be surprising and there was one scene that I thought was outstanding. Nancy is experiencing microsleep (I know all about that thanks to 12 hour shifts at work) while Freddy is chasing her through a scene that is alternating between a drug store and the iconic boiler room. It’s a blast to watch and very well done, as are most of the effects in the movie.
Actually, the only time I had an issue with the mostly perfect CGI was during close-ups of Freddy’s face. The producers decided to use some Two-Face-esque effects on his face rather than stick with practical makeup and it was the wrong call. It distracted horribly from Haley’s performance because it was the only time I got that “Hey, look at that CG” feeling. Other than that, Freddy’s new look is good. I can’t say I prefer it, but it is different and interesting. I like the idea that they referenced actual burn victims. Or at least, I did until I realized how gruesome and horrible it is of me to say that. Never mind.
I noticed during one scene that the box containing mementos and pictures from when the kids were five years old was labeled “1997”. That made me feel fucking old. That’s the year I turned 21.
I also dug the way the story started out being about Katie Cassidy’s character and then moved on to Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner after she got killed. It was a little jarring, but it was a cool bit of misdirection.
Overall, though, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a pass. While I have enjoyed the rest of Bay’s Platinum Dunes remakes (I actually prefer the new Chainsaw) to one degree or another, this is the first that seemed entirely unnecessary to me. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the writers, Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer. Everything not involving the script was competent.
I just read that Strick wrote Arachnophobia, the Cape Fear remake and Doom; all of which I liked (yes, I liked Doom).Nightmare was Heisserer’s first big project, which might mean he is the problem. I sure as hell hope not, though, because his second big project is the prequel to John carpenter’s The Thing. Yikes.
On a side note, I grew up thinking Freddy Krueger was a pedophile. I don’t think it’s ever totally ruled out in any of the movies.
Eugene – “My God, that Fred Krueger was one sick piece of shit. Raping and killing little children.”
William – “Whoa! Hold on there, buddy! He just killed ‘em – he wasn’t a pedophile. Jeez! Give the guy a break…”
I don’t think any exposition like that ever occurred. It always seemed implied to me that he was killing them so they wouldn’t tell, so coming out and saying it in this one just didn’t have much impact for me.
I’m curious to see if this really does kick off a new series of movies. I kind of doubt it. I’d be less surprised to see a new sequel featuring Robert Englund with Craven at the helm. Clearly Mr. Scream 4 isn’t afraid of visiting old wells. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
All in all, I can't imagine ever choosing to watch this one over the original.

2 out of 5 Red Bulls spiked with ephedrine

Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

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