Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I avoided the majority of reviews and comments on this one before I went to see it. The only one I saw was by Movie Bob over at the Escapist. Now, this movie unfortunately starts out with two strikes against it.

1) It's a horror movie remake, which kills nearly any chance of it being good immediately,

2) It's a horror movie remake produced by Michael Bay. Now, unlike most people, I like the guy's work most of the time. I liked Transformers, I liked Armageddon. Bay directs big-budget action movies, and you can see where every dollar of that budget has gone. I will readily admit though that the man is as far from horror as it'd be possible to get, and a movie produced by him doesn't stand much better chance at being horror than one directed by him.

So, with two strikes before we even get to the opening credits, does the movie strike out miserably? Or does it rally for a home run? (I am NEVER doing a sports metaphor again, I swear.)
There's two jump scares in the first 10 minutes. That sets the tone for the majority of the movie. There's a severe over-reliance on jump scares with loud, crashing orchestra stings. That pretty much ruined it for me, but let's set that aside and see what the rest of the movie is like. Spoilers ahoy, so last chance to get out now before I start telling you what I liked.

The characters: While one guy is an idiot, strangely, this didn't fall in to the trap of just having characters being jerks until it's time for them to die. While you might not grow especially attached to any of them, you're probably not going to actively hate any of them. They're not screechy, whiny, bitchy, or overly retarded. The one idiot is even nearly excusable, since he ran from the scene of having his girlfriend strewn about the room in front of him, and on him. Probably only because that's what his equivalent did in the 80s version. In fact, probably a lot of the issues of this movie come from its inability to distance itself sufficiently from the original Nightmare. Well, that and some bad CG and too many jump scares.

That brings us to effects, including Freddy himself: Most of the effects are excellent. Prosthetics look good, blood doesn't look too watery, scenery looks excellent. But OH. MY. GOD. There was one shot that was terrible. It was horrible. It was... an homage... I suppose, to the scene in the original Nightmare where Freddy comes through the wall over the bed, distorting and stretching the wall. It was an amazing and creepy shot. In this version, it's terribly CG'd. This was not a shot that belonged in a serious movie. This was something out of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Fortunately, that was the only terrible shot of the movie. I can't complain about Freddy himself, though. They did a great job of re-imagining his look. He still looks terrible to behold, the burned and ruined face, the red striped sweater, the banged-up hat, and the claw. Oooooh, the claw. Struck up too many sparks, and sounded too electrical when he dragged it along anything, but it was just as nasty as ever. Yet it still added up to a slightly different Freddy. Unfortunately, due to a change in the plot, the claw is now a plot hole.

This time around, Freddy's a child molester, rather than a murderer. However, that means there's no call for him to have ever made the claw. Sure, he's a gardener, but that claw wouldn't be useful at all in that capacity. And really, it's the claw that kills the great idea of "Maybe Freddy didn't do it, and died innocent." Since there's no reason to have made the claw, and when in a flashback, Nancy has a claw mark on her back, there's not really any doubt that Freddy did it. If they'd not done the claw marks, or made some attempt to explain the claw, they could have played that plot point better. In fact, I think it would have been much more interesting if it'd turned out Freddy was wrongly accused. It'd have been a much different exploration of the idea. Freddy then becomes a spirit of vengeance instead of pure malevolence. The idea of micro-napping was interesting, and rather needed, since the backstory of Freddy being a gardener at a day-care, and the teens in the movie having been his molestation victims made the dream sequences focus on the day-care. The micro-napping allowed for some good transitions and effects. The time line was rather stupid, however. Seventy hours until you start micro-napping, and then you fall in to a coma and never wake up. I've gone 36 hours without sleep, and I was still okay. These kids were starting to fall apart completely after a day. Yes, stress would have accelerated the process a bit, but still, three days, and then shortly after that, COMA?!

Still, for all the issues, it wasn't a terrible movie. In fact, it was pretty good. If you want a decent horror movie, watch it. If you're a fan of the original, you shouldn't even leave raging and frothing.

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