04 May 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Starring Jackie Earle Harley, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kyle Gallner
Written by Wesley Strick, Eric Hesseiner
Directed by Samuel Bayer
Release: 30 April 2010
Platinum Dunes, 93 mins., Rated R

Plot: A group of 'teens' find that they are all suffering from the same nightmare of a red-green striped sweater-wearing burn-victim-looking scary dude who kills them off one by one.

A new year, a new horror remake! Good news: A Nightmare on Elm Street isn't BAD! The not good news: it's ain't great, either, and doesn't live up to the splendidly-edited trailer's potential. I mean, those trailers make the flick look friggin' awesome, like it's got some real potential to be a really damn good update to a tired franchise. Plus, the comments from director Bayer in the recent FANGORIA issue gave me some positive buzz for the project. Since my thoughts are scattered, I'm going to go the extremely lazy route and resort to bullet points! Gotta love 'em, if teachers notes on my papers are any indication...

Yep, That Was Pretty Good:
  • Jackie Earle Haley gets major kudos for being a utterly badass, ruthless, threatening, and all-around amazing Freddy Krueger. He seriously made this movie. His growly voice that would make Christan Bale jealous, his ability to just stand there and look like the most frighting creature in all of creation, and his brilliant one-liners...Yep, if I ever pick-up the DVD, I'm just skipping to all the Freddy scenes, and/or listening to the commentary if Haley's involved. Oh, and awesome performance aside, I quite like Freddy's facial redesign. I understand some folks may be put off by it, either with feeling it's disgraceful to Robert's look or for some other reason, but I think it looks actually scarier than the original.
  • The cinematography was pretty good. Regarding that FANGORIA interview I mentioned above, director Bayer remarked his visual style was heavily influenced by The Dark Knight, which gave me mucho hope. In response to whether or not he accomplished this, I give a underwhelming sorta. The majority of the time the framing and the visuals are pretty damn nice. However, downside - there is a lot of tight close-ups, almost like Bayer was filming a TV show moreso than a theatrical experience that wisely uses all inches of the frame. But, overall, cool.
  • Speaking of cool, there's an awesome scene near the finale where Nancy is in a supermarket looking for Quentin, and due to how long she's been awake she's suffering from micosleeps, and we seamlessly inter-cut between reality and Freddy's dreamworld. It's friggin' AWESOME.
  • I really liked the background information Freddy Krueger, as well as the possible idea introduced that Freddy could have been innocent in the whole affair, and that his motive is strictly revenge on the people for murdering him in cold blood. That was immensely interesting, and when the writers have Nancy and Quentin check out Freddy's old living place and the true answer is revealed, I like how they handled that particular storyline. I'm not one of those blokes who don't like a little history to a baddie 'cuz it 'ruins the mystery', so this was much appreciated.

Really, guys? You brought this out to theaters?
  • For some reason, this bothered me a lot: with the exception of Gallner, none of these actors look like they could possibly in any realm or universe of the imagination pass as high schoolers. Maybe really long-time going college students, sure, but still in high school? Katie Cassidy, who I have plenty of respect for 'cuz of her awesome portrayal of Ruby in Supernatural, is the worst offender. I haven't been this bugged about casting since last year with I Love You, Beth Cooper, where a 40-looking man was playing a high school graduate.
  • While on the topic of actors - they generally were quite not-good this time around, which is surprising considering who they got signed up. Thomas Dekker did a phenomenal job in the Sarah Connor Chronicles, same with Casiddy in Supernatural, but both drop the ball big time here. Relative unknown Rooney Mara is sorta blah faced the entire time, Kyle Gallner seems to be sleeping through his performance (hehe). I don't really want to be saying this, 'cuz I respect these actors, but this definitely wasn't their brightest hour. And this Kellen Lutz bloke in the first 5 minutes - his best work was his short face-off against Freddy that lasted a whole 15 seconds.
  • Steve Jablonsky - did you just write a nearly nonexistent score or did you just get your name attached via some sort of contract with Platinum Dunes when working on Friday the 13th?
  • Nancy and Quentin's 'solution' seemed pulled right out of Freddy vs. Jason. Poor writing or just lack of ways to get rid of a demon that exists only in the dreamworld? I enjoyed watching their plan unfold, I just couldn't help but feel cheated by a unoriginal 'beat Freddy' idea. And concerning those final seconds, that jumpy ending was really ridiculous. Just...bad.
  • I just wish the dream sequences were a bit more imaginative.
Overall, A Nightmare on Elm Street was about average. Haley was, as I expected, phenomenal in his performance; I like the new Freddy design; the performances were lakcluster; and the jumps were no better than the When a Stranger Calls remake (and that's bad, BTW). But, with a $32 million weekend opening, Platinum Dunes has already announced a remake sequel to be produced in 3-D (!!! OMG!!!), so one way or another, we'll be getting either Nightmare 2 or Friday Part 2 relatively soon. Oh, and for anyone concerned with ranking: 1) Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2) A Nightmare on Elm Street, 3) Friday the 13th, in regards to Platinum Dune remakes.