Aaron R. Davis
My wife and I are big horror movie fans. We also agree that, as a general rule, the recent wave of horror movie remakes sucks. And even the ones that don’t suck still kind of suck. I think it’s because horror movies in the seventies and early eighties had something to say about the way we related to a world we once considered safe. Today, these movies — when they’re not just being excessively cruel — are just lame action thrillers with half-hearted monsters. There’s no thought behind what these things represent. There’s no characterization, no build, no crescendo … it’s all just creepy monotones and flashes of blood and total boredom.
So, gluttons for punishment that we are, we decided this weekend to finally sit down and check out the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
As I write this, we were sitting in front of our television and watching this movie less than 24 hours ago. And I can barely remember it.
I remember some blood and a couple of scenes and that weird piss-yellow color that hangs over every horror movie these days. I remember the new Freddy Krueger make-up, which makes a horror icon now look like Pruneface from Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy movie. I remember Clancy Brown, because I love Clancy motherfucking Brown. But mostly what I remember is being dead bored by this … I don’t even want to call it a movie, because that gives it more respect than it deserves.
Here are 10 things I did while this movie was playing and completely failing to hold my attention.
1. Washed my lens cloths. I wear glasses, and the cloths I use to clean my lenses have been getting a little dirty. So I went into the bathroom, washed them in the sink, and hung them to dry, all the while completely unconcerned that I would miss anything that was going on. This is how bored I was: I had the time to notice my dirty lenses, and walk into another room entirely to clean the cloths. And you know what? I could still follow the movie, because there is zero story in this thing. Everything is just that predictable and pointless.
2. Had a discussion with my wife regarding the lack of movie nudity these days. We both miss the eighties, when there were tits everywhere. Not that nudity was essential to the movie, or anything, but we had watched Saturday Night Live the night before and thought it was hilarious and stupid that they were making a big deal about Anne Hathaway being naked in her new movie, Love and Other Completely Predictable Storylines. I mean, it’s more of a story when Anne Hathaway isn’t naked in a movie, since that’s a much rarer occurrence.
3. Updated my farm on FarmVille. My white pumpkins were ready to be harvested. And hey, I mastered the crop, which is way more exciting than anything that happens in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Granted, the crop mastery was telegraphed because I paid attention to my harvest numbers, but everything in Nightmare is telegraphed, too, and you don’t even get any XP for it.
4. Talked about other horror remakes and their various merits. Maligned though it is, we actually both like Rob Zombie’s Halloween (though we despised Halloween II). Take that as you will; if you hated Halloween, you can imagine how much we hated A Nightmare on Elm Street. For us, the low point in horror remakes is the insipid, inept, bottomlessly cruel Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Jessica Biel. That movie just wants to hurt the audience. A Nightmare on Elm Street, once the big, obvious, remarkably uncreative “twist” is revealed, also wants to hurt the audience with its dumbass psychosexual components, but doesn’t even know how to handle it in a way that’s offensive or mean, much less organic or interesting. It doesn’t help that the “kids” in the movie — whom we never even get to know before being thrust into a situation where we’re supposed to actually give a shit if they survive or not — all look like they’ve recently graduated college. Freddy wants to behead a bunch of college kids? Be my guest, dude, they could use a good culling.
5. Cleaned the living room. There was garbage that needed to be rounded up. This is an excellent sign that I was uninterested in keeping my eyes on the screen.
6. Wondered aloud why music video directors get to graduate to features. For every David Fincher — and we can argue, I think, over whether his presence in the echelon of filmmakers is really that essential — there are eight wannabes who end up under Michael Bay’s wing interested only in showing off what they can do with a camera and not actually telling a damn story. (Bay is, of course, a former music video director.) Look, I don’t care how much you can whip your camera around and show me hands coming out of bathtubs — if I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about the peril they’re in, and I’m just bored with your computer antics.
7. Checked my phone messages. I missed a call from my friend John in Liverpool. Damn it!
8. Made up my mind about what to have for dinner. My wife ended up making pizza. The secret to the crust? Butter and cornmeal. It tastes like my beloved Giordano’s, but at about a third of the cost.
9. Forgot what movie I was even watching. That actually happened a couple of times, then Jackie Earle Haley — apparently now typecast as a child molester — would pop out as Freddy and remind me that this was supposedly A Nightmare on Elm Street. The kids in this movie are so nondescript that I couldn’t really give them my complete attention.
10. Fixed the plot of the movie. It’s never a good sign — though it is fun — when you’re watching a movie with someone and you start rewriting the plot out loud. Here’s a spoiler for you, I guess: the movie hinges on Freddy Krueger’s history as the gardener/janitor at a preschool. There are accusations of molestation, so the parents of the children chase Freddy down and trap him in a building, which they then burn down. Now the children are in high school, and Freddy is coming for them in their dreams. One of the kids thinks Freddy must have been innocent, and that he’s killing them now to get revenge for lying about him. The big “twist” is that the kids were telling the truth, so now Freddy’s going to get revenge for their tattling, except for Nancy, whom he wants to play with again in an aggressively, almost ludicrously sexual manner.
The problem with this is: it’s stupid. A far more interesting twist would’ve been that someone else was molesting the kids — one of the parents, maybe — and that they blamed Freddy and murdered him to cover it up, so now Freddy is killing the kids to get back at the parents. Instead, the filmmakers go the far more obvious route of making Freddy just another pervert, without acknowledging the psychological fact that a pedophile has no interest in sexually-mature teenagers. Yes, I know how I sound, but Jesus, your horror movie has to make some damn sense, and when it hinges on this guy’s psychotic proclivities, you can’t just make shit up because you think it sounds creepy. Sorry for taking Psych 101, guys.
Still, after all of that stupidity, I only have myself to blame for these things. Because my curiosity gets the better of me. And they’re not going to stop making these dumb movies as long as people like me keep being so curious. The only really nice part of a movie like A Nightmare on Elm Street is that, honestly, by the end of the week I’ll have forgotten I even saw it, and it’ll fade into the background like any other nightmare.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.