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Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010Reviewed by Heather Wixson

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

Directed by Samuel Bayer


I can vividly remember the first time I saw Freddy Krueger on the big screen. It was 1987, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was playing during the summer at a local drive-in as a double feature with Predator. Once I had seen the Freddy Worm sequence, I knew I was a Freddy Girl for life and there was no going back.

When I originally heard that Platinum Dunes was remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street (true story: if you Google me, one of the top links is a comment I made on EW.com about the project a few years back), I was livid. However, being in the line of work that I am, remakes are now a commonality, and as I’ve come to realize through numerous discussions with genre filmmakers of every level, there are no sacred cows left when it comes to our boogeymen.

Freddy Krueger was getting a makeover, and that was the end of it.

Going into A Nightmare on Elm Street, what I consciously decided to do was keep an open mind and avoid the urge to compare it to the original. What I decided when the film was finished was that, for the most part, Platinum Dunes succeeded in delivering one hell of a chilling spin on the lore of Freddy Krueger and the doomed teenagers of Elm Street.

In terms of plot A Nightmare on Elm Street goes back to square one. We’re introduced to a group of teenagers who all inexplicably begin to have nightmares about the same man. Once one of the teenagers commits suicide while asleep, the others come together to find out what evil lurks in their missing childhood memories and how that relates to the increasingly disturbing man who terrorizes their dreams.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

In this new film first-time feature director Samuel Bayer isn’t looking to recreate the look that Wes Craven established with his 1984 modern horror classic. Instead, Bayer, who is known as the visionary director who may have single-handedly revolutionized MTV in the early 90s with his video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” plays to his strengths as a visual director to make this terrifying new trip down Elm Street something that translates well to today’s audiences.

What I also enjoyed about this new Nightmare is that we finally get some character development that doesn’t seem forced like you see in countless other horror films these days. The core group of teenagers taking on Freddy this time (Mara, Gallner, Dekker, Cassidy, Lutz) are all likable, realistic characters that you actually want to root for. There’s no jock, no stoner kid, no dumb cheerleader. These kids are just seriously screwed up and looking to survive. In supporting roles both veteran actor Brown and one of my personal favorites, Britton, deliver great performances as parents, who for a change aren’t the generic hapless adult-types we so frequently see. These are parents who desperately want nothing but to protect their children from evil.

Now, it’s time to talk Freddy. In this Nightmare Freddy is cruel and dark. Perhaps darker than we’ve really seen before. In the original series Freddy’s crimes against the children while still alive all played off-screen. Here, script writers Eric Heisserer and Wesley Strick avoid the easy route and explore the pedophile aspect of Krueger by giving us some back-story without going to far. It was a bold decision for Platinum Dunes and Bayer to agree to go this route, and while it is touchy subject matter, it never feels exploitative.

Haley, who has become the master of playing dark characters, takes his Freddy to some wicked and terrible places as he chases down his victims. While he doesn’t have that certain charisma that only comes from being Robert Englund himself, Haley does give the character a cold viciousness that has been lacking in the franchise since 1994’s New Nightmare. Haley’s Freddy is pissed and disturbed and doesn’t have time for one-liners or sight gags. He’s just here for revenge. And it was nice to see Freddy finally have a little menace back behind the glove.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Even though I enjoyed A Nightmare on Elm Street, there are things I’m still not completely on board with. First is the makeup. It’s been a problem for me since I did my set visit last June. I can appreciate the decision to give Freddy a more realistic look, but I think that since Freddy is this evil entity in the dream world (and not reality), his makeup should have reflected that. That could just be my inner geek talking, but usually my inner geek is right. My other issue is that the big showdown between Nancy and Freddy in the final act is missing a little something. The film’s ultimate conclusion more than makes up for it, but I would have liked to go a little further in finding out just why Nancy is Freddy’s “favorite” out of all of his victims.

Also, surprisingly enough, the two scenes that slowed the film down for me are those taken straight from Craven’s original — the tub scene and Freddy pushing through the wall. I liked a lot of what Bayer did with his Nightmare, especially something referred to as the “Blood Bog” by the cast and crew and the opening scene, which gives the film a brutal jolt. But the film would have been stronger had it kept in the subtle homages to the original and avoided recreating those classic scenes. With such a vast creative playground, like the dream world, this would have been a good opportunity for Platinum Dunes and Bayer to really add their trademarks to the project.

The other thing I wasn’t happy with is that the film relies too much on digital technology to do its storytelling. While I do know that these days it’s hard to avoid digital effects, I just wish the technology was enough to keep the effects from still looking cheesy.

With all that being said on both sides of the playing field, the solid performances, stunning cinematography and visuals, and revamped and brutal Freddy make this A Nightmare on Elm Street worth checking out. While the film isn’t completely perfect, it is clear that Platinum Dunes learned how to improve its formula since last year’s Friday the 13th remake. And even though this Nightmare wasn’t nearly the memorable event for me that Dream Warriors was some 20-something years ago (how can you compete with nostalgia?), this is a good start to a new era of Freddy Krueger, and I’d definitely be interested to see where this new franchise goes in the future.

3 1/2 out of 5


“>A Nightmare On Elm Street by Heather Wixson

–>

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET CENTRAL
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Review Our NEGATIVE look at “>A Nightmare On Elm Street by Carmen Potts
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Check out our TOTAL “>News Center
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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User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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