Monday, April 9, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes and Nightmares

So I've decided to do things a little differently. Rather than keep with formal reviews, I'm gonna try to make things a little chattier around here, though the focus is still completely on movies. 

I've found that I've watched a whole lotta movies lately that I just didn't have a tremendous amount to say about. I mean, why put more work into a review of Hellraiser: Revalations than anybody put into the execrable script? That being said, I'm still watching plenty of movies, and I'd like this to be a place to talk about them. 

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give the 2010 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street another go. I saw it theatrically at the midnight show the night before it opened, and again on bluray at a Halloween party later that year. This time I watched it with "Maniacal Movie Mode" engaged, a bluray feature that allows access to deleted scenes, alternate takes, and behind the scenes footage while you watch the movie.

Didn't help.

Full disclosure, I think Wes Craven's original A Nightmare On Elm Street is fantastic. It's a terrifying concept (your dreams can, and probably will, kill you...don't fall asleep!) and while the movie is not without its flaws, it's a scary, smart, engaging story.

The remake, on the other hand (claw?), is a boring, ugly, lifeless exercise in loud jump-scares that create neither fear nor interest. Jackie Earle Haley is serviceable as crispy-skinned murder enthusiast Freddy Krueger, but he brings very little of the playful deviltry that Robert Englund originally brought to the role. I'm certainly not against the recasting of Freddy (Englund himself has gone on record several times saying that he's been Freddy long enough), but Haley is given virtually no character to play. It also doesn't help that the CGI-assisted make-up makes him look like nothing so much as a microwaved hamster in a hat.

There is one genuinely chilling moment in which Freddy is cackling over a victim and informing him that it takes the brain a few minutes to die after the body does, so "we got six more minutes to play". It's a great bit, but unfortunately it's surrounded by the rest of this godawful misfire.

They cover the beats of the original film, but they do so without anything organic to the story driving those beats. It's a remake that knows the words but not the music (and frankly it's somewhat fuzzy on the words).

Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara is bland, forgettable, and blandly forgettable as Nancy, a character who shares a first name and absolutely nothing else with the feisty heroine of the original film. Here, Nancy is our protagonist because....uh...well, we need a Nancy I guess. So here's a Nancy. 

The other characters, such as they are, are a band of interchangeable mopey kids who may or may not have a connection to a deceased creepy dude who graduated first in his class in dream-murdering. It's very briefly introduced that the kids may have caused all this with a big fat lie, but what might have at least been an interesting wrinkle is dropped as fast as this movie will drop out of your memory banks.

One last thing...where the fuck are all the parents? There are a few great character actors completely wasted in thankless authority figure roles (Clancy Brown & Connie Britton most egregiously), but there isn't a single character in this movie with more than one parent at most. Is this a comment on the prevalence of single parent households in modern suburbia, or is it a lazy script that decided characters only need to exist to spout expository dialog and nothing else? The answer is simple: I don't care because this movie is the WORST.

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