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Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010Reviewed by Carmen Potts

Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Connie Britton, Clancy Brown, Katie Cassidy, Kellan Lutz

Directed by Samuel Bayer


At the risk of sounding biased or unfair right out of the gate, I have to ask a question that has been on my mind for the last few years: Why do people continue to hold out any hope for these Platinum Dunes remakes? I know brand names are exciting, but after several of these lame assembly line clones, Michael Bay and his posse have consistently proven that they don’t understand a single thing about telling stories or creating characters. Hell, they couldn’t even provide us with basic bloody entertainment in a Friday the 13th movie. That’s the absolute lowest of hurdles! What made anyone think they would fare better with something as imaginative and smart as A Nightmare on Elm Street?

The short answer is they don’t. At this point all of these remakes are pretty much indistinguishable from each other, and this new Nightmare perfectly fits in with the rest as another over-polished, soulless slice of music video stupidity.

If you know anything about Freddy Krueger (which would be everyone reading this site), you know the premise, which is exactly the same this time around: Several kids in the town of Springwood are being killed in their sleep by a burned maniac and must get to the bottom of his revenge quest. If you die in your sleep, you die for real. Great hook, right? It’s too bad all the depth of Wes Craven’s concept has gone waaaaay over the heads of the remake team.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Where to begin? Director Samuel Bayer embodies all the worst traits of the music video guy turned filmmaker. He over-stylizes every shot without any regard to pace, storytelling, characters, or performances. Bayer has even taken jabs at Craven’s original in the press, and many have commented on how he only took the gig to break out of music videos and into features. That complete lack of passion and understanding comes across in spades. But since this is exactly like every other Platinum Dunes movie, maybe we shouldn’t blame him. Maybe we should just level the blame at the producers, who always seem to be the real directors of these movies anyway.

Regardless, for a “creative team” that has displayed a complete indifference to Wes Craven, they sure love imitating him. Most of the original’s classic setpieces have been repeated – this time with a lot of bad CGI. It’s amazing to see all these iconic sequences sucked of all life, and the whole thing further hammers home why the horror genre loses its charm as filmmakers continue to get lazier with technology. The few nightmare sequences or gags they’re able to come up with on their own are largely uninspired. Even with an unlimited concept at their disposal, they do absolutely nothing new or interesting with the dream universe aside from your typical stalk-n-slash. Epic fail, guys.

The casting of the great Jackie Earl Haley was the one token of good faith and the sole reason many have held out hope for the remake. I hate to say it, but his Freddy Krueger is about as intimidating as a burned Martin Short. You can’t blame the man, though. He tries really hard. Had the character been re-envisioned from the ground up, Haley could have really sunk his teeth in and made it his own. But since he’s dressed in the familiar garb and forced to perform the same ol’ song and dance (albeit with the early darker iteration of Freddy), he comes off as a poor man’s Robert Englund. The new make-up (a mixture of prosthetics and CGI) doesn’t help either: The FX department pushes it so far towards the real that Freddy doesn’t look scary in the slightest. How terrified would you be if the scrawniest patient in a burn ward slapped on a razor glove and came at you?

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

And let’s talk about the glove, shall we? Remember the complete non-moment in the Friday the 13th remake when Jason randomly finds his hockey mask sitting on some guy’s floor? Well, that same lack of care has been put into Freddy’s origins. Moments that are supposed to be big and signature come off as under-played and limp. I’m still unsure where Freddy’s signature glove came from (he just “has” it in the finished film) aside from one limp visual connection. A lot of this has to do with the big third act twist that re-invents Freddy’s past crimes in a way that is both bold and utterly preposterous.

But what really kills this movie are the characters. There isn’t a single solitary person here to care about. The original Nightmare may be dated in many respects, but it was the intense character dynamics and relationships that kept you on edge just as much as when Freddy Krueger was onscreen. In the remake there’s no sense that anyone knows each other at all. The kids here are as stock as they come, and as a result nothing in this movie carries any weight. Every character is boring and completely one-dimensional, particularly Rooney Mara (who takes on Heather Langenkamp’s iconic role of Nancy). She is quite literally one of the blandest heroines to ever hit the screen, and I could feel myself nod off with each of her line deliveries. Sure, the original wasn’t exactly praised for its acting, but even Ronee Blakley comes off like a master thespian by comparison. Call me crazy, but when a Nightmare movie lulls you to sleep, that’s not a good thing.

While it may not reach Freddy’s Dead levels of suck, this new Nightmare commits a far worse offense: It’s mediocre to the point where it leaves absolutely no impression on you whatsoever. I know Platinum Dunes has been DC’s whipping boy for a long time, and most people will think this review no surprise, but let’s get something straight: Nothing would give us more pleasure than to see a PD film that makes us all eat crow. But the reality is their talents are not suited to the horror genre. And certainly not for Elm Street.

No one’s gonna lose sleep over this one.

2 out of 5


“>A Nightmare On Elm Street by Carmen Potts

–>

A Nightmare On Elm Street CENTRAL
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Review Our POSITIVE look at “>A Nightmare On Elm Street by Heather Wixson
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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Find out what we learned from our Set Visit
Brad Fuller - A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Read our Interview with Brad Fuller
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Photo Gallery Feast your eyes on our extensive Photo Gallery
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Video Clips Watch all of our Video Clips, Soundbites, and B-Roll
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Video Interviews Get entranced by our Video Interviews with Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel Bayer & Thomas Dekker
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Black Carpet Premiere Make like you’re there with us at our Black Carpet Premiere Coverage

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review – Sonny Chiba As A Werewolf Cop In ’70s Japan

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Wolf Guy UK SleeveStarring Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Nami, Kyosuke Machida

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Distributed by Arrow Video


As virtually every American adaptation has proven, translating manga to the big screen is a job best left to Japanese filmmakers. There is an inherent weirdness – for lack of a better term – to their cultural media that should be kept “in house” if there is to be any hope for success. Ironically, the stories are often so fantastical and wildly creative that a big American studio budget would be necessary to fully realize such a live-action vision. But I digress. Back in 1975, Toei Studios (home of Gamera) adapted the 1970 manga series Wolf Guy into a feature of the same name. Starring the legendary Shin’ichi Chiba (a.k.a. Sonny Chiba), who at that time was in his prime, the film combines elements of crime and psychedelic cinema, delivering less of a werewolf film (despite the title suggesting otherwise) and more of a boilerplate crime caper with a cop who has a few tricks up his hairy sleeve. I should stress it is the story that plays fairly straightforward, while the film itself is a wild kaleidoscope of strange characters and confounding situations… mostly.

An unseen killer, known only as “The Tiger”, prowls the streets at night slashing victims to death and leaving behind no trace. Beat cop Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba) is on the case, and he has an advantage over his fellow brothers in blue: being a werewolf. As the opening credits flashback shows, Akira is the sole survivor of the Inugami clan of werewolves after a slaughter wiped out the rest of his kind. Now, as the last of his brethren, he uses his acute lycanthropic skills, under the auspices of the moon, to track down underworld thugs and solve cases uniquely tailored to his abilities. As the lunar cycle of the moon sees it growing fuller Akira’s powers, too, increase to superhuman levels.

Searching for this mysterious “Tiger”, Akira is led into a subterranean world of clandestine government organizations, nightclub antics, and corrupt politicians. One night, Akira is attacked and taken prisoner by a government research lab that wants to use his blood to create werewolves they can control. Only problem is – which they don’t realize – Akira’s blood cannot be mixed with that of a human; the only end result is death. Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug user with syphilis, comes to Akira’s aid and proves to be quite useful. She holds a secret that has the potential to vastly change Akira’s world but, first, a showdown with the criminal underbelly looms on the horizon… as does the fifteenth day of the Lunar Cycle, when Akira will be made nearly invincible.

First, some bad news: Sonny Chiba never attains full werewolf status. This is not that movie. Sure, he growls and snarls and sneers and possesses many of the traits of a werewolf but in terms of physical characteristics he more or less remains “human” the entire time. Yes, even during “Lunar Cycle Day 15”, a.k.a. the moment every viewer is waiting for, to see him turn into a wolf. Instead, he just winds up kicking a lot of ass and taking very little damage. To be fair, a grizzled Sonny Chiba is still enough of a formidable presence, but, man, to see him decked out as a full-on kung-fu fighting werewolf would’ve been badass. The film could have done better at tempering expectations because it builds up “Day 15” like viewers are going to see an explosion of fur and flesh, instead it’s just plenty of the latter. Aw, well.

Lack of werewolf-ing aside, the film plays out a bit uneven. The opening offers up a strong start, with The Tiger attack, wily underworld characters being introduced, and a tripped-out acid garage rock soundtrack (which I’d kill for a copy of). But Second Act Lag is a real thing here and many of the elements that may have piqued viewer curiosity in the first act are scuttled, and although the third act and climax bring forth fresh action and a solution to the mystery it also feels a bit restrained. Then again, this is Toei, often seen as a cheaper Toho. Wolf Guy serves as a good introduction to Akira Inugami and his way of life, which makes it a greater shame no sequels were produced.

Presented with a 2.35:1 1080p image, Wolf Guy hits Blu-ray with a master supplied by Toei, meaning Arrow did no restorative work of their own on the picture – and it shows. Japanese film elements, especially those of older films, are often notorious for being poorly housed and feebly restored. This transfer is emblematic of those issues, with hazy black levels, average-to-poor definition, minimal shadow detail, and film grain that gets awfully noisy at times. The best compliment I can give is daylight close-up scenes exhibit a pleasing level of fine detail, though nothing too eye-popping. This is a decidedly mediocre transfer across the board.

The score fares a bit better, not because the Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono mix is a beast but because the soundtrack is so wildly kinetic, exploding with wild garage rock and fuzzy riffs right from the get-go. Dialogue has a slight hiss on the letter “s” but is otherwise nicely balanced within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

“Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts” is a September 2016 sit-down with the film’s director, who reflects on his career and working with an icon like Sonny Chiba.

“Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master” is an interview with Yoshida, a former producer at Toei who oversaw this film and many others.

“Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1” covers the man’s career up to a point, with the remainder finished on Arrow’s other 2017 Chiba release, Doberman Cop.

A theatrical trailer is also included, as is a DVD copy of the feature.

Special Features:

  • Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts
  • Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master
  • Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Wolf Guy
  • Special Features
2.8

Summary

While the film might be a bit of a letdown given what is suggested, fans of bizarre Japanese ’70s cinema – and certainly fans of Chiba’s work – should, at the least, have fun with this title.

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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