Wednesday, 26 May 2010

[Rec] 2

[Rec] 2007 burst out of Spain like the European champions. It is the best zombie film this century. It is arguably the best zombie film since Dawn of the Dead 1978. The opposite corner of the argument is Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters 1979 - every bit the equal in bombast and verve.

There are a number of reasons why a sequel is filmed. The obvious is exploitative, the best is narrative, a third is popularity - the audience demands it. [Rec] had such impact the remake was released in America before the original (via straight-to-DVD).

[Rec] is a self contained story which is problematic for a sequel. James Cameron faced the same issue with Aliens 1986. His solution was to change lanes. The story he wrote was different albeit based on the same premise. [Rec]2 writes itself into a corner by continuing the original story with no narrative interlude.

Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza are the writer-directors. They clearly love their monsters the way Mary Shelly loved hers. They’ve tried to renew the story whilst retaining the familiar boxed-in location. Halloween 2 1981 did not take place in Laurie Strode’s house but even so that film had its narrative inconsistencies: Michael Myers changed from stalker-slasher (in the original) to inventive killer all in the course of one night.
[Rec]2 suffers from the absence of actress Manuela Velasco the emotional core of the first film - a Final Girl tour de force. In her stead is a paramilitary police unit. Their mission is to escort a government technician into the quarantined building to investigate the goings on. SWAT-type cops do not a final girl make. The horror is action packed portrayed but the din of buff men persistently and repetitively yelling the same fear at each other becomes grating.

The filmmakers employ a non-linear narrative to tell two concurrent stories before they merge. Indeed the timeline of the kids would begin near the start of the first film. These are not Hollywood kids. They are neither coquettish nor cute. They are profane, impudent and inquisitive. The only sympathetic characteristic they have is their youth. That is more than enough.

Their introduction is a welcome lull in the mayhem. It affords time to catch breath and survey the story landscape. The Hitchcock ploy of the ticking bomb under the restaurant table of oblivious diners is utilised to optimum devastation. The pace reverts to DEFCON 1 - and then the dénouement.

 [Rec]2 narrative inconsistency is enough to turn the audience against it. Remember the first time you saw The Crying Game 1992? The reveal was shocking enough to induce walkouts. The opposite happened - the audience flocked to it. With [Rec]2 the audience may well desert it in droves. I was initially infuriated at the swerve. Then I accepted it. It’s the result of goodwill.

The point-of-view gimmick is retained which does not detract from the story though it is a gimmick and no more. The acting is compact and fine tuned especially in the second story strand. The zombies have increased intent – they seemed to have sussed the layout of the building. There are additional undead hitherto unseen in the first film. These are enough ingredients for a feast of horror. [Rec]2 can stand alone but as a sequel it falls dead on its face - due to that narrative swerve.

I forgive them. Film opens 28th May in the UK (9th July in the US). Due to its popularity on DVD most of the patrons will have seen the first one. The casual fan won’t forgive them. No one will care for [Rec]3.
Read more Thrill Fiction: The Top 10 Horror Films of 2009
Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Survival of the Dead (and other zombies)

Atención! Click the sidebar poll to register your view on my effort in writing A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return. 
A neighbour once told me how he felt about his missus while he was courting her: he would have killed for her. Now 25 years later he doesn’t care if she lives or dies.

Beauty does not last forever. Talent may not last that long either.

Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive. He may never beat his 100metres personal best of 9.58seconds – mankind may never – but if he wants to he had best be quick about it. The superman quality – the sporting prowess – is fleeting.

An artist’s timeline is harder to measure.

John Lennon and Michael Jackson peaked before they died. Oasis had three good albums in them before they descended into self-parody[1]. Yet Jay-Z’s most recent album is his 11th studio effort and he continues to soar[2]. John Grisham’s debut novel A Time to Kill was a gripping legal thriller. He rewrites it every year under a different title. Even Shakespeare pilfered himself. Yet Thomas Harris progresses as a storyteller with each successive novel.

In Hollywood Alfred Hitchcock was not the filmmaker of his former self before he died. John Carpenter, Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone – as sacred as cattle can be – have not made a movie this century to match their former glory. Scorcese and Lee especially remain technically adroit alas the magic is gone. Yet James Cameron and Clint Eastwood continue to successfully challenge convention.

Survival of the Dead 2010 is the bookend of the second zombie trilogy. The first trilogy is the best in horror and one of the best in all of film.
The Trilogy of the Dead began in 1968. It is nigh impossible to appreciate the impact Night of the Living Dead had on those who saw it in that most tumultuous of years[3]. The ugliness of the low budget does not impinge its power. Some of the audience – John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, John Landis – share their awe in the documentary The American Nightmare 2000. I urge all to watch it. 40 years on and Night of the Living Dead continues its relevance: on 18th May the Thai army conducted the red shirt massacre[4]. 
I am reminded of Dawn of the Dead 1978 every time I go to my local Walmart. This is where the people gather and wander. They fill their trolleys with foodstuffs that are saturated with fats and sugar and salt to induce addiction then they go home and gorge. They grow heavier and unhealthier and so they feed their children. They are the epicentre of the obesity epidemic. They don’t know when to stop.

Dawn of the Dead is one of the top 10 horror films of all time. It is a work of genius.

The third entry in the trilogy cannot compare to the first two. Any film that uses the evil military as backdrop loses a sense of subtlety. That is not to say the military is not a legitimate target of the dramatist however in Day of the Dead 1985 there is also the spectre of the mad scientist: A Dr Mengele type experiments on zombies thus foreshadowing the gene techno terror of the 21st century whilst in the tradition of The Island of Dr Moreau[5].

Day of the Dead is effective as drama but not so as satire. The evil military and the mad scientist plotlines cancel each other out. However the premise of a world overrun by zombies and the increasing aptitude of the undead were the foundation for the next trilogy.

The release of Night of the Living Dead exalted George A Romero as horrormiester. By the conclusion of the trilogy in 1985 he had also directed The Crazies 1973 Martin 1978 and Creepshow 1982. He was the horror tsar. Trilogy of the Dead became home video legend and over the next 20 years it became lore. The rumours began of a new Romero zombie film – of a new trilogy of films. It was apropos. There were so many copycats. The Trilogy itself was being remade. In 2002 Danny Boyle reinvented the genre with 28 Days Later. It was time. The rumours were true.

The Horror Folk had forgotten that Oasis only had three good albums in them.  
2005 marked the end of the second trilogy of the Star Wars franchise. Though the scifi fans were grateful for the crumbs overall it was disappointing. 2005 also marked the start of the second trilogy of the dead. At $15million Land of the Dead is the (joint) biggest budget Romero film to date[6]. The mythos of the Trilogy afforded him bigger names (though no A-listers): Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, and his mate’s nipper Asia Argento. 

It all fell apart from there.
In the Romero tradition of social commentary the story circled a  city fenced off from the zombie hordes. The well-to-do lived in ivory towers whilst the poor existed on ground squalor like cockroaches. The police were a death squad for hire enforcing the order of the rich. As salivating as the set up sounds none of the threads were developed. Instead the film focussed on a vanilla hero who pined to drive off into the sunset - and a Good German zombie.

Big Daddy is so cognisant it is almost impossible to view him as undead. Furthermore the zombies are given attributes – fear of water, mesmerised by fireworks – which they overcome. A feature film is too short a story form to introduce new laws only to break them.

There are good ideas that don’t work (Pontypool 2009). Land ignored its good ideas and focussed on the bad. Romero wrote the script. With this movie he wrote off his crossover appeal. With his next movie Diary of the Dead 2008 he filmed zombies sans horror – and wrote off his fan base.
As a result Survival of the Dead 2010 is low budget with no major studio distribution and no name actors. The franchise has revolved full circle though it had more life in 1968. This is the first film that references another in the series and indeed is the first narrative sequel. Alan van Sprang starred as Brubaker in Land. He played the colonel in Diary and that (renamed) character is the lead in Survival.

The prologue establishes the world is overrun by zombies and Sarge takes his unit AWOL; they are the bandidos of Diary. The story shifts to Plum Island off the coast of Delaware where the townsfolk speak Oirish. Amidst the spreading infected are two warring factions. O’Flynn is introduced as a warlord full of righteous bloodlust. Muldoon is precision killer who believes their zombie kin can be saved. It’s not hawks vs doves it’s hawks vs vultures. Muldoon outnumbers O’Flynn. He banishes him off the island.

O’Flynn returns with the bandidos.

The joy of a Romero directed zombie flick is the subtext. The dismay of Survival is that there is none. Sarge and his unit don’t represent nor stand for anything other than self preservation which is particularly moot in a zombie film. The token female warrior is a stock spicy Latina Vasquez rip-off. Boy is ripped off from the character Jesse Eisenberg played in Zombieland 2009. It’s as if Romero decided to infuse humour - for the first time – in order to appease the market. Yet the series continuity is skewed; a soldier looks on in disbelief as Boy steals from a corpse – forgetting that he’s a land pirate from the previous film.

O’Flynn is an old coot. He’s on a killing spree but as Sarge admits he’s likeable. Muldoon is not. His stance on the zombies is intractable even if he dooms the whole island in his hope filled delusion. He believes the zombies can be taught. He tries to feed one pig.

Hence Muldoon and subsequently the whole movie is problematic because this was the role of the mad scientist in Day of the Dead. Romero is pilfering himself. The most hackneyed cinematic devices are the amnesiac and the identical twin. This film doesn’t have an amnesiac but Jane the twin has the worst dialogue of a Romero penned character. Other than that her actions are ludicrous. It’s another potential parody point for Wes Craven.

There is one moment of Romero in this flick. Sarge comes across some good ol’ boys that spiked the decapitated heads of a number of African-American zombies for some ‘fun’. In the 40 years since the first film the definition of ‘fun’ hasn’t changed – for some[7][8].

The best performances come from Kenneth Welsh and Richard Fitzpatrick. The old men pretend they’re pioneers from the old country who have brought their old ways with them but without the Fenian slurs. However the rest of the film’s tone is uneven. Romero’s attempt at humour fails. Slapstick does not fit in the theme. It’s a theme flawed by recycling – like toilet paper.

When Danny Boyle released 28 Days Later there was an immediate question of the validity of Romero’s zombies. Was their lumbering relevant in a digital century? Zombieland proved that they were albeit in a different format. Further the best Romero-esque zombie film since 1978 was Zombies of Mass Destruction 2009. A new generation has taken ownership of his creation and the tsar is redundant in a republic.

Romero says there are two more instalments planned[9]. If they do come to fruition they’ll be released straight to DVD. The Horrormeister may well have film left in him but not zombies. Survival does not conclude the second trilogy because there is no second trilogy. The last three films have been ramshackle and behind the curve. Though the lumbering zombie will continue into the 21st century with the likes of Zone of the Dead 2[10] they will do so without direction from Romero.

One man can only do so much and talent may not last forever but Romero’s legacy will. Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are seared into folklore. Unfortunately Land was the dead too far. 2010 marked the 6th film of the franchise. 2011 will mark the start of the second trilogy of Scream.

Wes Craven you have been warned■
George A Romero is an inspiration and despite my disappointment with Survival of the Dead I look forward to watching his future work.
Thank you George.

Technorati Tags:, , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Monday, 17 May 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

[Stop Press! I am about to write a feature length spec screenplay. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return is my response to the lethargic lacklustre studio remake. Horror is chaos and I will spare no sentiment. I would like your support. Click the poll on the sidebar to do so. I appreciate.]
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 1987 opens with a quote from Edgar Allen Poe. Not all the sequels used epigrams. Some of those that did – Freddy’s Dead 1991 – resorted to the superficial. The epigram became quasi-traditional in the Elm Street films so it is appropriate that this most definitive documentary on the franchise opens with one.

Early to rise and early to bed
makes a man healthy and wealthy
and dead.
James Thurber

A good documentary will best a great blog. Moving pictures communicate in a more visceral form to seduce its audience. Its very nature lends itself to better access. Documentary is supplement to the subject. A documentary made by fans is a love letter. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy 2010 is what Romeo would have filmed of Juliet - but he killed himself before the technology was invented.

Co-directors Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch are more than mere fans. They made His Name was Jason 2009 a film which serves as harbinger for this DVD. Never Sleep Again is split over two discs. The first is the four hour feature. Disc 2 has four more hours of extras that include extended interviews and featurettes. There is not a minute wasted.
The feature is a congregation of Elm Street alumni assembled to reminisce for our viewing delight. Conspicuous by absence are Johnny Depp Patricia Arquette and Kelly Rowland. I didn’t expect any of those three to participate but I was surprised at the absence of Bradley Gregg (Phillip in Dream Warriors). His death was gnarly. It was memorable. It is mentioned in this doc. So wherefore art thou Bradley?

He’s alive and well and can be found on his website with nary a mention of Elm Street.

The legacy is of eight films and each is allotted the same amount of time (approximately 40 minutes). There are good nightmares (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 Dream Warriors). There are the bad (The Dream Master 1988 Freddy’s Dead 1991 Freddy Vs Jason 2003). There are the worthy failures (Freddy’s Revenge 1985 The Dream Child 1989 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare 1994). Never Sleep Again does not differentiate; the recollections make the bad interesting and the good more enticing.

Robert Englund should change his name to England because he is a bit of a luvvie. His breakout role – in industry terms - was in V a 1983 TV show. The irony is the 2010 remake is currently being broadcast on ABC (in the States and Syfy in the UK). He’s not in that either. However he does take centre stage in this doc as well he should. Englund is one of only two people who were involved in all eight movies the other being Robert Shaye – who tried to bump him from Freddy’s Revenge.
Jsu Garcia is credited as Nick Corri in the original. It’s an idea his agent had because it was taboo to be Latino in 80s Hollywood. It was a lesson already known to Ramón Estévez. Incidentally his son Charlie Sheen wanted the Johnny Depp role.

There are anecdotes, justifications, denials, accusations, resentments, gossip and genuine love for the series and for the fans. Ken Sagoes who played Kincaid tells a story of how Heather Langenkamp stood up to director Chuck Russell for the young actors on the set of Dream Warriors.

“… that’s why I love her to today.”
Ken Sagoes
She really has become Nancy.

Disc 2 has a featurette Horror’s Hallowed Grounds presented by a goofy Sean Clark. At separate points he’s joined by cast members including Amanda Wyss and Heather. It is twenty-odd minutes of visiting the locations of the original and is actually good fun. Once again this shows the dedication of the alumni to the fans which makes Sean’s antics forgivable.
For the Love of the Glove documents fans that have taken the franchise to industry – cottage or otherwise. These men and women hand craft and market the most famous prop in Gen-X horror. Through their own endeavours they have become part of the wider Elm Street mythos.

There’s also a preview of Heather’s own upcoming documentary I Am Nancy where she visits conventions and mingles. The cream of the featurettes is Freddy in Comics and Books. This is where the writers outside of the motion pictures tell of their work in expanding the Elm Street Universe. I’m currently writing (on spec) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return. I will be one of them.

Never Sleep Again illustrates the phenomenon that is Elm Street and its 25 year legacy. Wes Craven’s creation has touched those who worked on it officially and unofficially and those who consume it. Horror is story. The bells and whistles are add-on. Platinum Dunes does not understand this. No one is going to make a documentary of their heresy.

Where most horror films do not have a happy ending this one does. 
Never Sleep Again is the antidote to the horror of the remake.

Technorati Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Monday, 10 May 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street: What about the sequel?

There goes A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 but not every remake sucks.

The list is short: Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978 The Thing 1982 The Fly 1986 Night of the Living Dead 1990 The Hills Have Eyes 2006. The first three films are based on a novel novella and short story respectively ergo it can be argued that they are not remakes at all but new works based on previously filmed material. For example; can anyone accuse The Passion of the Christ 2004 as being a remake of King of Kings 1961? A remake is the rewrite of a previously filmed screenplay. To describe it in any other way is to use marketing shorthand. Furthermore to be pedantic The Thing and The Fly are sci-fi and not horror. Thus to use fine criteria there have been all of two worthy horror remakes.

A novel or short story can be revisited because of the depth of material. Typically less than 50% of the novel makes it into the screenplay which means there’s unused story that can be filmed for the first time. John Carpenter’s The Thing is exemplar of this. His ‘remake’ is closer to the novella ‘Who Goes There?’ than the 1951 ‘original’. In rewriting a screenplay all the story has been already been filmed. By definition it is harder to differentiate from the original whilst still maintaining the narrative.

Alexandre Aja achieved this with The Hills Have Eyes.

When Platinum Dunes announced they were to remake A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 I groaned with the rest of the horror community – the Horror Folk. There has been a certain backlash within our own forums to the pessimism. I believe the word used is ‘haters’.

There is more than one reason to hate remakes.

Et Cetera.

There is scant reason to look forward to a remake. Even so there is the possibility of a film attempting to tell a told story new:

·        Halloween 2007
·        Dawn of the Dead 2004
·        The Blob 1988
·        Children of the Corn (TV 2009)
·        Salem’s Lot (TV miniseries 2004)

Like everyone else I had to accept the Elm Street remake as impending fact. As I thought about the original I thought about how I would have gone about rewriting it. I bounced ideas off people’s heads. They were enthusiastic. They had to be. I was buying the beer. The most developed scene was Nancy dreaming Rod Lane’s death. I didn’t write anything down. After watching the Samuel Bayer movie I wish I had done.

At the time of writing the reported Elm Street take is $42.6million (8 days). The carpetbaggers studio has already announced plans for a sequel – in 3D. Gimmick the audience and they will come huh? Whether that happens depends on future box office. Friday the 13th 2009 grossed 37% of its opening weekend by day 10. Elm Street needs to gross $45m by tonight – which it probably will – just to be on par with F13.

Platinum Dunes scrapped a Friday the 13th (3D) sequel.

Freddy’s international box office may help the decision to make a sequel. I have already made mine.

I was 18 when I had my first nightmare. In pitch blackness a robotic type animated figure stalked me to a corner. I was scared. I also knew I was in a dream. As the Thing got closer I tried to wake myself up.

I couldn’t.

I was terrified. This Thing was at me. Its movements were not human. I screamed in terror and for help. I heard a door open.

My dad came running in and woke me up.

I hate remakes ‘cos they suck. I want to see a good film. I prefer to see a great film. Fatal Attraction 1987 and Scarface 1983 are remakes. If a sequel to the remake does get made (in 3D or no) then it won’t be because I didn’t groan loud enough.

I’m going to write the screenplay.

A spec screenplay of course.

I’ve written three feature scripts, one short and one novel. I’ve had nothing produced or published. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. The highlight of my resume is No Fixed Abode; I was quarter finalist for the ©AMPAS® Nicholl Fellowship.

I’m a lover of horror not a hater. I’m a fan of the franchise and this is my broadside to the suits. This is to let them know that the Horror Folk want good films. Forget the 3D gimmicks. Pay less attention to meaningless visuals (Nancy in an indoor snowstorm? Cool?). The stories that endure are the great ones with attention to narrative detail. The Pied Piper. Hamlet. A Nightmare on Elm Street.

It created a franchise.

I’m going to write a great screenplay. The working title is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return. It’s a remake of the first sequel. I’m aware of that film’s shortcomings. I also think there’s a great story in there. Horror is chaos. I’m putting my reputation online for all to read. I will post the first draft on 31st August.

God willing.
click to read opening scenes
I ask for your support - the horror community, the fanboys, the Horror Folk. Support me if you’re a civilian and you like good writing. The internet is yours. The studios will be taught to respect us. It was the power of the internet that had Warner Bros release Trick r Treat. I’m not naïve. I don’t think Michael Bay will be frantically hunting for my agent (while I’m frantically hunting for an agent). However if Platinum Dunes do produce a sequel then it will be the power of the internet that forces them focus on good story.

If you’re reading this take a second to click the poll at the top of the page. Or leave a comment. I’d love the encouragement. I’ll also respond to criticism (if any). I know I’m going to have nightmares. That comes with the writing.

I’m going to leave it all onscreen.

How about Ti West to direct?

Technorati Tags:, , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Re/Made: A Nightmare on Elm Street [part 2]

Attention! This article contains spoilers. To those of you who haven’t yet seen the movie - congratulations.
The opening credits of every movie should be used to set the tone and/or begin to tell the story. By necessity the title cards – from distributor to director – can last up to 2 minutes. Apart from confirmation of the one or two featured movie stars the audience doesn’t give a flick.

In the credit roll of A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 the claw glove icon is crafted. In 2010 the credits roll over a se7en-esque collage of children – the furies – playing hopscotch and jumping rope. The original credits introduced the theme music. In 2010 for the first time in the franchise that theme is absent – in the credits and throughout the movie.

What sort of reboot would ignore the iconic theme?

A film can be remade with the best intentions. A talented filmmaker can turn the old into something current. Martin Scorcese’s Cape Fear 1991 is a remake of the ’62 original. It features Robert De Niro in a seduction scene with Juliette Lewis playing a 13 year old. It is a corruption scene.

Samuel Bayer is a successful music video director (which is not a prerequisite to being a filmmaker) ergo the absence of the classic theme is astounding. Human beings have a Pavlovian response to music. The 50 year old James Bond franchise understands that. This is change not for the better but for the sake of it.

This is Platinum Dunes.


The first scene is indicative of how badly written this film is. All four major characters are introduced and their inter-relationships are crudely drawn. There is too much information yet each character is indistinguishable from the other due to their morbidity. The dialogue is that bad - Nancy has a bitch tongue that serves no purpose but to alienate the viewer. None of them have character motivation: Dean confides to his girlfriend that he hasn’t slept for three days, that he’s afraid he’ll die in his sleep. She tells him to snap out of it.

They’re just nightmares. They’re not real.”
- Kris

As he waits for her to return from the Ladies he nods off. Freddy appears and kills him. Kris sees Dean struggling with a knife then cutting his own throat.

I laughed out loud. What should have looked like suicide looked like a struggle with the invisible man.

In a departure from the previous 8 films the dreamer dies in the first scene. It’s an attempt at fast pacing but it denies the audience resonance. Dean is dead thus so is the impact of his dreams. The movie has to start over to achieve a haunting so Kris takes the lead. Kris is unsympathetic. The core audience know she is a dead man walking so it is futile to invest hero status in her. The filmmaker fails to understand the Janet Leigh plot point by having already done away with Dean. The dramatic trajectory struggles from a lack of a defined lead.

The next scene is Dean’s funeral where Kris has a front row seat. She falls asleep and sees Freddy for the first time. Kris is the only woman in stories told to have fallen asleep at the funeral of her boyfriend whom she saw die. Such is the calibre of the plot.

Wesley Strick[1] rewrote Cape Fear 1991. It has a seamless narrative. He clearly understands tempo and pacing in a screenplay so Platinum Dunes hired Eric Heisserer[2] to rewrite him. Strick is not a literary genius but he does have at least an adequate track record. Why he allowed his name to remain on this toilet paper is a Writer’s Guild mystery.


The story differentiates itself from the original by casting Freddy as child molester as opposed to child murderer. Wes Craven’s original version of Freddy was as murderer and molester. Craven rescinded the latter part as an act of self-censorship[3]. Freddy is a better creation for it - his evil had no rationale. In this remake Freddy the child molester does not commit murder until after his death.

 “You want to know who Fred Krueger was? He was a filthy child murderer who killed at least 20 kids in the neighbourhood. Kids we all knew.”
- Marge Thompson
A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

The glove was his hand crafted murder weapon.

It’s not something a child molester would use.

Thus the trademark of a 25 year old franchise has no narrative position in the reboot. This is Platinum Dunes. Astounding.

The paedophile angle raises further problems of plausibility. Would middle class Americans – including a psychiatrist – lynch a child molester? This is what does happen in America when a preschool is thought to be staffed by paedophiles[4]. The angle exists purely for shock value. It is a high price for the viewer to pay for entertainment.

The film is populated with characters that defy logic – the worst of the bunch being Kris. After witnessing Dean’s death she asks Jesse what happened. The non-dimensional role is enhanced by Katie Cassidy – a non-dimensional actor who has one facial expression and no talent to screen. She makes Amanda Wyss’ Tina look like Ophelia as played by Winona Ryder.

The original Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is the best Final Girl in the history of horror. She battled the demon three times and won the rubber match. The reboot Nancy Holbrook is played by Rooney Mara.

refunds please

The set pieces culled from the original – the face in the wall, the claw in the bath, the death on the ceiling - were all highlights of the trailers. In the original there was no set up build up or musical cue when Freddy pressed his face against the wall above a sleeping Nancy. However in 2010 the scene is neon signposted because it stands in isolation; it doesn’t relate to the previous or subsequent scenes. In ’84 it was a part of Tina’s death sequence. It was Freddy’s movement that knocked the crucifix off the wall which woke Nancy. In 2010 Nancy wakes up of her own volition. The set pieces from the original were culled specifically for the trailers.

The imbecilities of the plot are legion. Such as when a blood covered Jesse breaks into Nancy’s house and grabs her from behind. She doesn’t even scream. They’re not even friends. There are too many inconsistencies to mention all but it is possible to mention everything that works.

The original fails to ask the basic question – why now? Why are the kids dreaming now? In 2010 Dean was in therapy. The shrink took him back to his childhood and that’s when the dreams started. The other tweak is Tina’s dream. She leaves Rod in bed because Freddy calls her outside. In the reboot Kris goes looking for her (or Kincaid's) barking dog. 

Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.
- Euripides

At the time of writing the North American gross is $33million[5]. That’s a hit. Final US take will be about $75m. I’m better with words than with numbers – I’m using Halloween 2007[6] as a paradigm. Parent studio Warner Bros. has already announced a sequel. The horror fan base is the most loyal of all genres (even more so than those sci-fi weirdoes) but it will not tolerate much more of the same. Warner Bros are not pointing out that this is the least successful opening weekend of the (three) new icon reboots. $33m is not a hit. It’s to be expected. They should remember what happened to Halloween 2 2009[7].

There are those who will like this film (tourists). There are those who will defend this film (contrarians). The core audience will reject it. The horror community knows a good movie from a bad one and has the self awareness to enjoy both. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is not so bad it’s good. It’s too bad it got made.

In the final analysis of a remake can the film stand up on its own? This film couldn’t stand up without scaffolding. Platinum Dunes have used up all the goodwill built over the last 25 years in one weekend. It’s not just the exploitation factor – to which all moviegoers give a modicum of consent – it’s the ineptitude. I don’t think Samuel Bayer was trying to make a bad film. I don’t think he’s capable of making a good one.

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street has haunted us for a quarter century. It has survived the video nasties witchhunt[8], the upgrade from VHS to Blu-ray, and seven sequels some of which brought it into disrepute. It will survive this reboot attempt because it is a quality story. It is honest. The viewer can see that on screen.

Thank you Wes.■

I’m going to return to this topic when the DVD comes out because there’s a lot more to say. There’s more to read from Reznor at Koopaskeep[9] and click Project Child Murdering Robot[10] for the best written blog on the internet. I can say that because it’s got nothing to do with horror.  

The incoming documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy 2010 is released May 4th and will be reviewed shortly after.

Technorati Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator