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Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street


"I'm your boyfriend now!"


BOO! Did I scare you? No? Hold on... BOO!! Did I scare you then? Yeah, I did. Don't act like you're so -- BOO!!! How about that time? Did I scare you then? Fine, I won't do it anymo -- BOO!!!! Haha, got you finally! Still no? Okay, I'll just go back to boring you then.  

That's pretty much what it was like watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, the 2010 remake that goes to an empty well about a dozen times too often. I can't recall another horror movie so desperately reliant on the Boo Machine. Every teenager in the movie made it a habit of sneaking up behind their friends and putting a hand on their shoulder or yelling "Hey!" or rattling on their window loudly. Considering they're all sleep-deprived and terrified of the melted-faced guy with the razor claw hands haunting them in their dreams, you'd think they'd be more sensitive to scaring the shit out of each other unnecessarily. But no.  

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a reboot; a brand new crop of teenagers are being murdered in their dreams by Freddy Krueger, whom they've never heard of - unlike the audience, who knows all this stuff already. This creates an experience of the audience being way, way ahead of the dumb teenagers trying to piece together why their friends and soon them are being hacked and slashed every time they take a "micronap", why their parents (Clancy Brown and Connie Britton - totally wasted in nothing roles) keep lying to them about them knowing each other as children, and how come there are pictures of them playing as children when they all only recall meeting in high school. After Kellan Lutz, Katie Cassidy, and Thomas Dekker (the three more "famous" faces from Twilight, Melrose Place, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) are offed, it's down to Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara to stop Freddy.

Even for a movie about a homicidal dream monster, there's no logic anchoring reality: Nightmare opens with Lutz murdered by Freddy, but he's the only one of the kids who gets a funeral. Any normal high school in any normal town in the real world would stop everything cold if three kids die gruesomely in mysterious circumstances, but in this movie, Principal Clancy Brown keeps classes open and makes sure the swim team never misses a practice. Gallner, a ritalin addict, steals adrenaline shots from the hospital to keep himself awake, jams the syringe in his leg, and... nothing. Oh, adrenaline has no effects? Well, it does if you've seen Pulp Fiction; i.e. a shot to the heart can wake a girl up from a coma. 

Jackie Earle Haley does his best as Freddy Krueger but he has nothing to do except clang his knife fingers against the wall and utter a few trite quips (the funniest of which was "I'm your boyfriend now!" to Mara.) Sometimes it just sounds too much like Rorschach is chasing the teenagers around. Haley is not given any opportunity to distinguish his Freddy from the shadow of Robert Englund. And you know what?  Freddy Krueger is a bitch. He's a child molester who lucked into some supernatural powers but took revenge on the kids who didn't do anything to him instead of the parents who chased him out of town and set fire to him like they were the KKK. His child molesting when he was alive wasn't even of the caliber of the guy who owned the bicycle shop on Diff'rent Strokes. Fuck Freddy.