A blog about movies and filmmaking.

1, 2, Freddy’s Coming For You

In Horror on April 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I’m not that big of a horror fan, but I’ve actually not totally hated the Platinum Dunes remakes of the 70/80’s classic horror/slasher/monster movies. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was brutal, messed up and featured a pretty great Leather-face in the body of Andrew Bryniarski. AMITYVILLE HORROR, I don’t remember too much about, but thought that Ryan Reynolds was pretty great in the role originally played by James Brolin. Okay, I admit it, that’s all of the movies I’ve seen. Though the FRIDAY THE 13TH movie looked pretty good too.

So, to say that I suspected I would like their take on Freddy Krueger – especially once I found out who was taking over the role made famous by Robert Englund – was a safe bet. Samuel Bayer’s take on the franchise, originally created by Wes Craven, takes the concept another step – like most of “The Dunes'” remakes. The kills are all more gruesome – and as realistic as possible; the tension gets as thick as mud; and the killer’s are attempted to given a little humanity. (I’ll always remember the moment where I saw Leatherface without his face on and that gruesome nose – or lack thereof – which really just made me feel sorry for the guy, and made me understand why he chopped off other people’s faces.)

Also, I don’t know if it was as explicit in the originals for each of these movies (I haven’t seen the original ELM STREET, just it’s varied sequels; and I haven’t seen the originals of the other movies in forever.), but Dunes really seems to latch on to the whole “fucked up family dynamics”.

Anyway, back to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The story begins on a young man in a diner, who is suddenly in a surreal version of the place; where half the kitchen is on fire, pieces of pig lay all over the place, and then the quick appearance of Mr. Krueger, himself. We get a couple moments introducing all of the main teenage characters and then the first gruesome death. The opening is pretty awesome, and I have to say that the rest of the movie pretty much lives up to it. The story follows the rest of these teenagers as each one gets a step closer to understanding why they’re being haunted and dispatched, by a man in a red and gray sweater, and fedora.

The cast works for what it is. The adults are filled with actors as varied as Clancy Brown (who is really our only main connection to other fun horror, or violent movies – from HIGHLANDER to PET SEMATARY 2), to Connie Briton (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS both the TV series, and movie), and Christian Stolte (LAW ABIDING CITIZEN). The teens are played by Thomas Dekker (THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES), Rooney Mara (YOUTH IN REVOLT), Kyle Gallner (JENNIFER’S BODY), and Katie Cassidy (TAKEN, BLACK CHRISTMAS). See, a lot more horror involved with the kids.

Then there’s the star of the show; Jackie Earle Haley, as Freddy Krueger. There’s definitely a difference – and I’m sorry, but there has got to be a comparison. The one thing that sets Freddy apart from the other 80’s slashers, was his personality (well, to be fair, Michael Myers, Jason and Leatherface, weren’t really much for talking) and dark sense of humor. The one moment that will forever haunt me is from the original PART 2, where Freddy has a kid cornered and says, “you’ve got the body” – then pulls the top of his own head off, and says, “and I’ve got the brains.”  And I’m happy to say that despite the far more realistic “burn victim” make-up, and serious-seeming tone, Haley lives up to the humor and horror parts of the role. He has some moments of breaking down into his “Rorschach” voice – which sounded quite a bit like Christian Bale’s Batman, as well. But, for the most part, he’s great. He’s horrifying and funny, usually right next to one another. I also couldn’t help, but in certain moments think back to Haley’s breath-through (re-emergence) role in LITTLE CHILDREN…But, that’s I’m going to say about that.

The script and direction by Wesley Strick (ARACHNOPHOBIA and WOLF) and Samuel Bayer – his first feature, after a long career directing music videos – do their jobs. The scares are good, the style of the movie is great. There’s some great moments that cut between “real world” and “dream world”. But, there are definitely some weaknesses too. Biggest thing being, if 15 years ago you hunted down and killed a guy, only to cover it up and erase all knowledge of that incident, wouldn’t you actually destroy all the evidence; as opposed to divvy it up between each person and store it in you attics or behind the dresser drawer?

But, I have to say my biggest disappointment in the movie was that there’s no tip of the hat to the original creators. I know that Dunes tends to take these remakes seriously and whatnot, but seriously, I was really hoping to see an appearance by Craven and especially Englund; as both of recognizable faces and y’know, shows you know where you come from.

But, yeah; I can’t say that I was really that afraid throughout the movie. There were some pretty gruesome deaths and whatnot, but I guess that just goes back to my not being a big fan of horror. Part of it might be that I was exposed to most of these characters at a pretty young age – bad, bad babysitters! But, I’m also aware enough of the real world, and the horrors that actually happen that a boogie man with a Michael Jackson glove, doesn’t really do it for me. But, I enjoyed the movie for what it is. A fun movie to go see people die gruesomely and hopefully get that person you go with to grab your arm and bury their face in your shoulder.

So, go see it. Have fun….9, 10 never sleep again…

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