Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Movie Review: Nightmare on Elm Street

Not much to say on this, Ben's review pretty much says it all. On the plus side, there is a movie reviewed this week that we did like a whole lot! I loved The Secret of Kells, which opens Friday at Film Streams. I'll drop that review on your faces this Friday. Here's Ben's review of stinky-stinky turd-turd.

Go Back to Sleep
We’ll all soon forget about the new Nightmare
Ben Coffman

Just like cloned mammals, which usually die before adulthood because of a myriad of developmental abnormalities, cloned movies age at twice the rate of their progenitors. The new A Nightmare on Elm Street fits right in with its brethren, such as the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the new Dawn of the Dead. Nightmare is a forgettable remake of a horror staple, updated for 2010 with characters who use search engines and wash their ADD meds down with Red Bull to stay awake. It is a replica of the original, doomed to live a weird, short life and die an early death.

The premise of Nightmare remains the same: A knife-wielding burn/fashion victim named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) haunts the dreams of a group of high-school students and kills them in awful ways. Rooney Mara plays Nancy, a haunted young lady that renders charcoal drawings so dark that they would give Francisco Goya the creeps. Kyle Gallner plays Quentin, an Edward-esque depressive in a Joy Division t-shirt. Nancy and Kyle become the last teenagers standing as their friends are murdered one by one to a plaintive, cliche chorus of "You have to believe me."

The new Nightmare isn’t a remake, it’s more of a reboot, and fans of the original will notice a variety of changes to the film’s story and characters. The gratuitous teenage sexcapades that characterized ‘80s slasher flicks (which was how you could tell which character was going to be impaled next) are completely absent here. But before you label the movie as being more “chaste,” know that instead of a child murderer, as in the original, Krueger has been rebooted as a child molester, a creepy detail that Wes Craven largely avoided in the original film.

This movie also marks the first time Robert Englund has not played Krueger, who has been reduced to some kind of strange muppet sporting a Christian Bale-as-Batman voiceover. The once-scary villain looks like a plastic surgery victim whose eyebrow lift went wrong, like Joan Rivers imagined as a burn victim. At least his never-ending barrage of terrible one-liners hasn’t changed.

What has changed is the film’s special effects, which have been digitally updated, although they’re still nothing new. One can only imagine what this movie could've been if a visionary like Tarsim Singh (The Cell, The Fall) had taken the reins. Unfortunately, Singh's artistic sensibilities would've been good for nothing more than a few ooohs and aaahs from this film's intended audience—perhaps it’s best he stayed away.

Sporting the thinnest veneer of horror elements, the new Nightmare is basically a bunch of gotcha surprises chained together into a narrative—the film’s sole function is to get you several inches closer to your date. For this purpose, it works. But we all know that these kind of uninspired flicks, made for a paycheck and the sake of nostalgia (in that order), are about as memorable as a pair of white tube socks, even if they enjoy big numbers at the box office.

Grade: D+

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