Monday, August 24, 2015

Office Horror Comedy BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS Comes To VOD & Select Cities September 4th

Man I'm looking forward to this one. Cabin In The Woods Fran Kranz stars as a white collared sales drone who discovers his new boss is, you guessed it, a Bloodsucking Bastard. If the vampire mythos of having one's life drained completely works as an allegory anywhere, it would be within the confines of the cubicle. If the trailer is any indication Director Brian James O'Connell isn't aiming for a subtle exploration of white collar ennui. This thing looks fucking BLOODY and hilarious. Audiences have a chance to see this film for themselves starting September 4th as it will be available on VOD platforms as well as special theatrical engagements in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Lubbock, Columbus (OH), Tampa, Seattle, Minneapolis and Austin (but no Boston, of course). See the film's main site for release details

About Bloodsucking Bastards:
An Office Space meets Shaun of the Dead action-packed horror comedy, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS stars Fran Kranz as Evan Sanders, a low-level, dutiful employee stuck in a boring job at a soul-killing every corporation. Evan’s the kind of guy who does all the work and gets none of the credit, but at least he gets to spend his days with his beautiful co-worker/girlfriend Amanda and his slacker best friend Tim, so he soldiers on in the hope of one day getting his coveted sales director position.
Unfortunately, it all falls apart in one fell swoop when Amanda breaks up with him and Evan’s boss Ted hands his promotion to his college nemesis Max . And it isn’t just their sordid past Evan has to deal with. After his fellow officemates start going through disturbing changes (which, paradoxically, make them better employees) and bodies begin to pile up, Evan learns the horrible truth: Max is a vampire. And even worse… a vamp with a plan.

ARC Entertainment To Release Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost In The Shell) Latest: GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID

I'll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about this project, but Lance Henriksen in full steam-punk gear in what looks to be an anime film brought to life has my interest perked up. ARC Entertainment has snatched up a number of projects that at the very least look creative and interesting in concept. GARM WARS boasts a decent cast and the directorial imprint of the influential and revered Mamoru Oshii. Look for it on VOD platforms starting October 2nd.

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 19, 2015) – ARC Entertainment has acquired US rights to the action-sci-fi thriller GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID.  Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and co-written by Geoffrey Gunn (Siren), the film stars newcomer Melanie St-Pierre (Barney’s Version), Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Lance Henriksen (Aliens).  ARC Entertainment will be releasing the film in-theaters and on VOD on October 2, 2015.  The deal was announced today by ARC Entertainment’s Head of Acquisitions Scott Moesta.

“Mamoru Oshii’s creative vision shines brilliantly throughout this film, with remarkable action and special effects from beginning to end,” said Moesta.  “We’re excited to bring this unique story to the big screen for audiences, and especially genre fans to enjoy across the U.S.”  

Visionary director Mamoru Oshii is best known for his seminal film Ghost in the Shell, a work famously cited by the Wachowski’s as a direct influence behind their iconic film The Matrix. 15 years in the making, GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID is a live action/CGI hybrid about a world on the brink of total collapse. The planet Annwn, inhabited by the Garm, is engaged in perpetual warfare among three tribes.  One Columba fighter pilot, Khara (St-Pierre), embarks on a quest with an unlikely trio: Kumtak tribal elder Wydd (Henriksen), a sacred dog Gula, and one of the last remaining mystical Druids from a long forgotten time. A Briga soldier, Skellig (Durand), accompanies the small band after forging an uneasy truce with Khara. As they struggle across the land in the search for answers to their existence, they encounter raging storms, fierce giants, and mechanical mayhem. They survive these trials only to meet their most difficult challenge yet, a desperate battle against impossible odds for the truth they seek.
Joining forces with his longtime collaborator, composer Kenji Kawai (The Ring), and three-time Oscar Nominated Sound Designer Tom Myers (Up, Toy Story) of Skywalker Sound, Palme D’Or Nominee Mamoru Oshii delivers a feast for the eyes and ears. Lending their VFX artistry is acclaimed Toronto company Intelligent Creatures (Orphan Black). GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID is produced by Makoto Asanuma (Gundam Wing), Tetsu Fujimura (Tekken), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Ghost in the Shell, Attack on Titan), and Lyse Lafontaine (On the Road).

Recent ARC Entertainment releases include The Barber starring Scott Glenn and Chris Coy; Molly Moon starring Emily Watson, Raffey Cassidy, Joan Collins and Dominic Monaghan; and Safelight starring Juno Temple, Evan Peters, Ariel Winter and Kevin Alejandro.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

STRANGLEHOLD Trailer Hints At Sci-Fi & B-Movie Noir Mashup

 Ahead of the September 15th VOD debut, Osiris Pictures has released a trailer for the science fiction tale STRANGLEHOLD. On the surface it looks to be an entertaining B-movie mashup of science fiction and pulpy noir. Synopsis: Facing certain death, a group of peaceful aliens try to thwart their violent oppressors, in an attempt to preserve their species and humanity. Kevin Makely (Mr & Mrs Smith), Luke Edwards (TVs True Detective), and Carolyn Stotesbery (Love & Mercy) star.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: SINISTER 2 Offers Solid. Creepy Second Effort By Adding Human Heart This Time Around

2012's Sinister was a near perfect original horror film. Sinister offered something far above and beyond the standard jump scares, quick zoom edits and sloppy found footage that are too often the hallmarks of horror that finds its way to multiplexes nowadays. Director Scott Derrickson and cowriter C. Robert Cargill knew enough to not let an over abundance of mythology get in the way of the visceral terror provided by the super snuff film footage and offered up a new, iconic villain in the form of pagan deity Bughuul. It also provided a self contained story that was satisfying in its own right, removing the need to churn out a sequel that would only dull the original film's impact. Yet while the followup has its share of problems, it adds an element of heart that was missing from the first film, and twists the formula just enough to stand on its own as a solid horror film.

Sinister 2 makes the wise choice to serve as a continuation of the first film, which makes sense when one recalls how the string of grisly family murders connected to one another. For the sequel, Deputy So & So returns, taking the front and center position. Still shaken by the deaths of the Oswalt family, So & So is now and ex-deputy hellbent on stopping what happened to his friend from ever happening again. To that end he is tracking down the homes where previous connected murders took place and torching them one by one in order to end the chain.

His journey puts him square in the path of Courtney (Shannon Sossamon, who is enjoying quite the revival of late) and her two young boys Zack and Dylan (real life brothers Dartanian and Robert Dylan Sloan). Courtney is on the run from her abusive but well connected husband Clint. Her friend has allowed her to hole up in a home on land her father owns as the house has sat empty since the barbaric murder of a pastor and his family inside the adjoining church. In a bit of a shift from the first film, both boys can see and communicate with children Bughuul has taken in the past. The children seem to target the more sensitive Dylan, promising him that the tortuous nightmares that plague him will stop once he finishes watching each of their films. One by one Dylan sits hostage through their disturbing footage, which this time around includes one family suspended over a gator pond, while another suffers the horrific fate of being buried alive in a Christmas blizzard. The favor the dead kids bestow on Dylan enrages Zack, and before too long the violent, abusive tendencies he inherited from his father bubble to the surface.

Sinister 2 suffers from a problem that plagues many sequels in the form of “more-itis.”. What works in small doses of the first entry gets overused. This strategy dulls the effectiveness of these traits. Bughuul steps out of the margins and is more front and center this time around (on an unrelated note, I'd love to know if it was a conscious decision to make Bughuul, who abducts children, resemble known kiddie toucher Michael Jackson circa the late 1990's). The violence contained on the home movies is amplified and even more grotesque and shocking than the initial film. It's as if since the film does not have the benefit of the element of surprise this time around they need to pile shock after shock onto the frame. There's a heavy emphasis on the jump scare this time around, in particular during the slower first half of the film. An overwrought, clanging note of the score accompanies each of these moments like an unwelcome party crasher. The most notable and troublesome aspect of this problem comes in the form of Bughuul's “children” occupying far too much screen time. The kids work so well in the first film because for so much of it you have no idea who they are and what their endgame is. They moved with an almost balletic eeriness, subtly manipulating Oswalt in ways neither he nor the audience understood until it was too late. That playful, childlike quality is absent until the final ten minutes this time around. Instead, the kids act more like schoolyard bullies exerting peer pressure on the boys. Instead of smoking, the dead children are forcing their canisters of film on Dylan like a proud papa showing off a newborn.

Luckily Sinister 2 is able to overcome these problems I keeping the creative team behind the first film in tact. Derrickson cedes directors chair to Citadel's Ciaran Foy this time around however he is back with Cargill to cowrite the script. unlike franchises paranormal activity and saw with the creative team stepped away after the first picture, the follow up to sinister retains the tone and what made the first film so successful. It's clear that both Derrickson and Cargill are fully invested in this world, It's mythology and it's characters. That extends beyond the big bad of  Bughuul straight to the human heart that makes this sequel work so well.

In some respects the most terrifying sequence of the film is when Clint shows up at The hideaway for the first time to take the boys from Courtney. He's pure bottled range in the righteous indignation. The terror on Dylan's face is 100% real and more organic anything to his previous scene on his basement visits to the movies. Sossamon's character marks a one hundred percent departure from Ethan Hawke's true crime writer in the original. Oswalt's pursuit of the elusive brass ring one last time consumed him, and caused him to keep his family in harms way despite all his instincts telling him to flee. In the first film, you were just as in the dark as Hawke's character, and that solid mystery allowed you to gloss over what an selfish ass Ellison was. Upon rewatching the first film, I was struck at the lack of warmth between Ellison and the rest of his family. He feels disconnected from them. Sinister 2 represents the opposite of this tactic. The film feels like it has actual stakes for the characters, and I bought into them. Courtney has her boys and nothing else matters besides that. She's smart, resourceful and not going to let them go without a fight. Resprising his role as “Ex-Deputy So & So”, Ransone combines heroic resolve with a clumsy, jittery dorkiness that makes it impossible to not invest in his character. Casting actual brothers in their roles works so well as their interactions feel authentic, whether it be the duo ganging up on mom to buy their cereal of choice or one Zack pounding the snot out of Dylan in a fit of jealousy. Between the Sloan brothers, Ransone and Sossamon, Sinister 2 provides protagonists that feel like living, breathing people than any wide release horror film in a long while.

Don't get me wrong, the elements of dread and terror that worked so well in the first film return this time around. Since the followup has an established world with rules and lacks the unfolding mystery of the first film, it relies on building atmosphere and a sense of impending doom with a few new wrinkles thrown in. In particular, a scene with a ham radio that broadcasts a particular murder along with coordinates for another is just plain unnerving. While Bughuul's children receive overexposure this time around, when they reappear on the 8mm film, dancing around their prey, it still works as a jolt of silent terror. The 8mm snuff films continue to be the hook for the franchise. The macabre death scenes are more elaborate this time around (one involves rats chewing their way through the victims) with striking depictions of murder. Like the first films, the use of the warm, analog color pallette and inherent softness of the 8mm film makes for a jarring experience. The brain makes the connection of these colors to happier memories, and the film provides glimpses of the joys of Christmas morning or a family fishing trip only to pull the rug from the viewer time and time again. We know what to expect this time around, yet the images never fail to unsettle. Compounding the terror is the silence with which these films play out. The audience is left to imagine the panic stricken cries terror and confusion from the victims, their pleas for mercy and ultimately, their death throes. The absence of aural stimulation set these moments head and shoulders above any of the moments that play out in real time.

Often with terrific horror films, I feel them more in my bones than my head. Walking out of the theater on a sunlit, muggy Friday afternoon, I couldn't shake the feeling that my limbs were disconnected from the rest of me. So far, both Sinister entries have had that effect on me. I'm in love with this world Derrickson and Cargill created, and as long as they continue to steer the ship, I'm on board. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: The Downer Of A Film That Is THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE

You can forgive someone who turns off The Curse of Downers Grove that asks themselves "Sweet jumping Jesus, what in the Christ did I just sit through?" The opening moments lead the audience to believe that we'll be heading into supernatural terrain. Each spring, a high school senior in the town's sleepy little Hamlet dies just days before graduation. The deaths are attributed to a curse put on the town after the school was built over the remains of a Native American burial ground. The suggested riff on Final Destination type fare suggested by the opening is shunted aside for a thrillless "thriller" that touches on the capstones of producer and co-writer Bret Easton Ellis' career. Hyper masculinity, ennui, the boredom and terror that is the blank slate of the future and empty drug binges are the cornerstones of the film.

A week out from graduation Chrissie Swanson (a doe eyed Bella Heathcote) has one foot planted in the past while dipping a toe in the uncertain future. She's happy to see her mom off on a romantic excursion with her new, stable boyfriend, now that her violent, meth-addicted father is out of the picture. After spending a year building a deep friendship with the town's young, hunk mechanic Bobby (Lucas Till) she's on the cusp of mumbling an invitation for him to ask her out. Her party going best friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell) is convinced the Senior curse is real while an agnostic Bella chalks up the deaths to teens being chowderheads (the high rate of DUI and drug related incidents would seem to back up her claim).

Her life changes on a dime when She allows Tracy to convince her to go to party hosted by football jocks a town over. Led by the star quarterback Chuck(Kevin Zegers), it's a booze soaked, coke fueled rager, and after downing a half dozen shots in quick succession, Chrissie finds herself cornered and alone in the bathroom with a very handsy Chuck, who does not buy into the idea that consent is sexy. Chrissie manages to escape being raped by gouging Chuck's eye out with her thumb before making a beeline to the exit in the film's one satisfying sequence.

The film goes to shit from there as Chuck stalks Chrissie, her younger teen brother Dave and Tracy. Chrissie's role is reduced to that of a piece of meat that alpha dogs Chuck and Bobby scrap over. The film is half as clever as it congratulates itself for being and a series of quick-cut nightmares (that are really just amount to stills from the film) set to Willow and Sierra instagram filters try to give the impression that something deeper is going on than the actual sub-Sleeping With The Enemy ripoff we're watching.

A huge part of the problem is the ennui riddled performance Heathcote gives as the lead. Bella is a killjoy from the get-go, obsessed with quashing any bit of fun or spirit demonstrated by those close to her. Yet we're supposed to buy in to the idea that the otherwise prim, older beyond her years Bella will not only go to the jock's party, but consume enough booze to put an elephant on its back while she can carry on as if she's been ingesting bottled water. Despite being the sheriff of the anti-fun police Chrissie has no less than three suitors doing battle over her for reasons that are never clear to the viewer. Chrissie's character problems run deeper than trying to parse out her relationship dynamics. Heathcote is completely inert in the role, reduced to delivering monotone voiceovers to the audience and seeming not half as ramped up about having a rage filled, potential rapist stalking her every move. Her character lacks any sense of urgency, even after her school locker explodes and she finds a pile of dead dogs on her lawn. The police offer no help, and yet at no point does anyone think it might be a good idea to, I don't know, contact the mother to come home from her vacation a bit early.

Director Derick Martini tries to inject an edge to the film with moments punctuated by primal violence, but even then the film fails as there's no consequence or momentum to these acts. For some reason Tom Arnold makes a cameo appearance as Chuck's dad in order to pummel the kid into submission for blowing his athletic future-and potential millions-by losing an eye. It doesn't help that the film has a flat, dull look to it which would be better suited to a low end cable show instead of a feature film.

The lone bright spot consists of the occasional bursts of chemistry between Mitchell's hard partying teen and Mark Young as Chrissie's 15 year old drumming and weed obsessed brother. The two start up a sort of cute relationship centered on them getting stoned. The two play well off one another, and are at least good for a laugh in an otherwise mirthless film. Mitchell plays a hot mess of a character and seems to be one of the few people trying to have fun with her role.

I can't think of another description than "sad" to see what the once promising Bret Easton Ellis has been reduced to. Coming off the punching bag that was The Canyons, the author of the seminal American Psycho has been reduced to teen fodder not even worth checking out during its inevitable run as a staple of cable television. The real"Downer" of the film is watching someone with talent squander it on something this pedestrian.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This Pic From DEATHGASM Makes Me Wanna Suck Face

This Saturday night I'm picking up my lovely wife and daughter at the airport after they've spent the past five weeks on a lovely Cornish beach holiday. I'm very tempted to try and recreate the outfit  below when I meet at greet them at the terminal:

At the very least it has me in the mood to toss a little Bob Seger on the hi-fi, dim the lights and do some heavy petting under the cover of dark.

In related news, festival favorite DEATHGASM is coming OCTOBER 2ND via Dark Sky Pictures and your life will never be the same after it rocks your ass off.  

Trailer For Sundance Rave THE WITCH Reveals One Of The Year's Creepiest Delights

 One of the most talked about films coming out of  Sundance this past winter was Robert Eggers' The Witch. A period piece set in 17th Century colonial America, early word on the film raved about the eerie sense of dread that permeated the work, the beautiful attention to detail regarding the period setting and Eggers' refusal to pull any punches with what promises to be one of the more disturbing films of 2016. Ahead of its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, A24 released its first trailer for the film. Catch that and the film's synopsis below:

In this exquisitely-made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family's frightful unraveling.
Set in New England circa 1630, The Witch follows a farmer who get cast out of his colonial plantation and is forced to move his family to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest rumored to be controlled by witches. Almost immediately, strange and unsettling things begin to happen-the animals turn violent, the crops fail, and one of the children disappears, only to return seemingly possessed by an evil spirit.  As suspicion and paranoia mount, everyone begins to point the finger at teenage daughter Thomasin. They accuse her of witchcraft, which she adamantly denies...but as circumstances become more and more treacherous, each family member's faith, loyalty, and love will be tested in shocking and unforgettable ways.
Writer/director Robert Eggers' debut feature, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (and won the Best Director Prize in the U.S. Narrative Competition), painstakingly recreates a God-fearing New England decades before the 1692 Salem witch trials, in which religious convictions and pagan folklore famously clashed. Told through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin - in a star-making turn by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy - and supported by mesmerizing camera work and a powerful musical score, THE WITCH is a chilling and groundbreaking new take on the genre.  

Runtime: 90 Minutes
Rating: R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity

For more on THE WITCH:

Friday, August 14, 2015

RETURN TO SENDER: Revenge Is A Dish Worst Served Dull

As I sat watching the moribund thriller Return to Sender, I felt more than a few pangs of sympathy for Rosamund Pike. To be clear, these feeling bore no relation to Pike's on screen role. I felt sorry for Pike herself. I tried to imagine what it must be like for a young woman, fresh of an Oscar nominated turn in Gone Girl to follow up that success with material that would be scraping the bottom of the Lifetime channel's barrel. I found myself wondering how soon after she had to utter the lines "I let my mother die. She did a lot of things to be but she never fucked me from behind" with a straight face did she get her agent on the phone to tear them a well deserved new asshole.

Pike stars as Miranda, a clinical nurse, type-A personality and germaphobe that keeps an aloof distance between herself and everyone else around her, with the exception of her father, played by Nick "what the hell is he doing in this film?" Nolte and his beard. Miranda is the special kind of annoying that spends her free time assembling birthday cakes that put the local bakery to shame while offhandedly saying it's "just something she does" and special orders a box of her favorite pen just so she won't have to soil her fingers with one from the bin at her local dry cleaner if the one she keeps on her runs out of ink.

Miranda's well ordered life comes crashing down around her when she's subjected to a horrific rape by a home intruder she mistakes for a blind date. William (The Evil Dead's Shiloh Fernandez) robs Miranda of her dignity and sense of purpose. Although he's arrested and jailed, Miranda cannot put a distance between herself and the rape. In the lone interesting five minute stretch of Return to Sender, we witness Miranda struggle with PTSD. Her icy reserve gives way to screaming outbursts, and she loses the surgical-like precision of her motor control, developing a nervous shaking of her hands that costs her a long sought after promotion at work.

It's at this moment that the film, already hindered by a pace akin to snails crawling a marathon course, fizzles out. Director Foaud Mikati does victims of sexual assault a tremendous disservice by having  Miranda formulate a revenge scheme that begins with her visiting her attacker regularly in prison in order to show a little skin and make seductive overtures at him. This kicks off a prolonged stretch of film that alternates between Pike visiting the prison and doing DIY home improvements (I dunno either) that's supposed to leave the audience questioning her motives. Mikati tires to set up a scenario that questions whether Miranda is working through her issues through an act of divine forgiveness, or if she's executing a long con. I suppose you can't blame Mikati for the marketing campaign, but the tagline of the film is She Will Have Her Revenge, so you can make your own assumptions there.

What you can and should blame Mikati for is an inert film that insults your intelligence far before it winds up in the makeshift surgical station Miranda sets up in her basement. Blame him for having his otherwise intelligent lead come up with a scheme that should lead law enforcement straight to her doorstep. Blame him for the dead weight that pads the film by a solid twenty minutes. Blame him for the rubber hand. Blame him for your past failed relationships or for leaving the uncooked chicken out too long in the sun if you must. Do anything but watch this travesty of a film, okay?

Fantasia 2015: BITE Makes A Case For The Staycation To Watch Better Movies On The Sofa

One minute into the new body harder film bite a character looks into the camera and demands to the party filming to turn the damn thing off. After sitting through the 86 minutes that follow that moment I only wish someone took her advice.

Bite adds to the growing list of transforming body horror films that all more than a fair share of debt to the early work to David Cronenberg and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. However the director involve shares a lot of the flair or understandings of the human psyche made Cronenberg's early work so damn compelling.

A week before her wedding Casey (Elma Begovic) and her two best friends skip town for a bachelorette weekend romp in Costa Rica. Amidst the drunken revelry and maybe/maybe not hook ups case he comes back with something far worse than her mounting pre-wedding jitters. What seems like an innocuous bug bite on her hip begins to transform the bride to be into something hideous and inhuman. Within a day of returning to the her home, Casey begins to feel the bite’s effects, which seem to be amplified by her concerns of her milquetoast fiancee and his sneering ogre of a mother.

Aside from top-notch visual fax bite is plagued with problems. At the top of the list is the wooden performances across the board. Begovic does her best to make Casey work as a compelling character but the script does her no favors. She spends too much time explaining her doubts over the wedding, her boyfriend and his mother, and not enough time showing the audience the toll these worries take  on her.

As her fiancĂ© is written and performed it's not hard to understand why she would not want to go through with the marriage to Jared. Jordan Gray gives a  performance that contains all the excitement of watching grass grow.  Jared is a horrid, spineless, mama's boy who would gladly crawl back up inside his mother’ s uterus if biology allowed him to, and it should have been a juicy fucking role. Instead, it’s just plain dull. There is no subtlety, depth or smarts whatsoever to the script. I spent more time wondering why Casey doesn’t leave her doctor more than a lone voice mail when he wound is oozing pus and she’s vomiting up an oil slick than I ever did caring about her or anyone else.  Even the exteriors look phony as shots of what is supposedly a swank high rise apartment building looks like the back lot of your local Best Buy.

The sole positive check on Bite’s ledger goes to the special effects department, led by Mason Derushie. As Casey succumbs to her infection, Bite offers up wet looking, slimy visuals capped off by thousands upon thousands of caviar egg like substances. Along with a top notch makeup design-the oozing pus pouring out of Casey’s bite is especially cringe inducing-the crew do a phenomenal job of transforming an Ikea catalog inspired domicile into something resembling a squishy, oozing catacomb. The result is both admirable in its craftsmanship and disturbing in its appearance.  

It’s too bad effects alone don’t make for a better film. The rest of Bite is so wooden, implausible and ill constructed it makes it impossible to recommend. If you’re looking for a body horror fix, by all means, check out recent entries Honeymoon, Contracted, or Thanatomorphose. All of them cover similar terrain, but do so with much more skill and impact. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Elm Street Reboot is NBD. Let's Give It A Chance.

Last week New Line Cinema announced they would be rebooting the Nightmare On Elm Street series for a second time after the critical and commercial failure of the 2010 film. At best, the news has been met with a shrug of the shoulders, while overall the collective reaction has been outright disdain and disinterest. If it’s not Robert Englund under the tattered red and green sweater and fedora, then the ship has sailed on fan interest in the series. As with any remake/reboot/reimagining nowadays, the project is being met with a healthy dose of skepticism.

There’s no getting around the fact that the last attempt at Elm Street was a hot circle of garbage. Platinum Dunes squandered an inspired casting choice in Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy by saddling him with an uninspired script and an unproven feature film director in Samuel Bayer. Haley does the best he can with the material, as pointed out in a terrific article by John Squires over at Halloween Love.   At the very least, Haley restored a sense of menace to the character of Freddy that had been missing since the first entry. I love the first three Elm Street films, but there’s no denying that by the time Freddy’s Dead rolled around, he’d been reduced to spouting one-liners and participating in eye roll inducing visual gags. Englund brought enough panache to a role he loved to play that made these films watchable, but just barely.

The 2010 film should have been a grand opportunity to reset the franchise and move forward, but Bayer, who has not directed a feature film in the five years since, brought nothing to the table. He was the man behind the camera for Nirvana’s iconic Smells Like Teen Spirit video but the spare, dusty and grungy look from that MTV staple had no business in the world of Elm Street. Bayer showed a complete lack of imagination and zero flair for visuals with a dull and uninspired film that seemed content to call back to Craven’s masterpiece by replicating the iconic moments beat for beat. With all the advances in practical effects and CGI at his disposal, the best Bayer could come up with is a return to the boiler room. Bayer managed to make the nightmare world where the only rule is there are no rules as exciting as a three hour conference on obtaining zoning law permits.

To be fair, an uninspired cast of Elm Street Kids, headlined by a disinterested Rooney Mara who looked like she snorted a few bumps of Xanax prior to each take, did Bayer zero favors. Robert Englund himself weighed in why the miserable kids in the film were the biggest reason it failed to click with audiences. When asked about the remake in a 2012 interview with Shock Til You Drop he replied:

“I thought the movie was a little cold.  We weren’t really given time to see the kids when they were normal, before they were frantic and haunted by Freddy.  That made it harder to connect with them, harder to care what happened to them.”

Granted, unlikeable characters have been something that has plagued horror for a number of years now, but the sheer apathy for life the kids in the Elm Street reboot displayed made the film especially troubling.

That said, just because the 2010 film failed, there’s no reason to at least give the new film a shot. It’s time for horror fans who grew up during the salad days of Freddy, Jason, Michael or Leatherface to stop thinking of these characters as “ours.” These slasher icons are the new breed of Universal Monsters. The 1930s and 40s may have belonged to Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman, but these characters didn’t fade into the dustbins after their heyday ended. To that end, as much as we would all love to see Englund wear the glove one last time, the man is pushing 70 and has earned the right to not sit in the makeup chair for six hours a day slathered in latex and glue. He made the role, and he will forever be associated with Freddy, but that doesn’t mean the role isn’t ripe for someone else’s interpretation. Dozens of men have played The Monster, but that doesn’t diminish Boris Karloff as the classic take on the creature. No character had been adapted to the big screen more than Dracula, and fans have been blessed with two iconic adaptations of the Count in the form of the Bela Lugosi and Sir Christopher Lee. There’s no reason Freddy can’t be adapted and work for the modern day.

Given the open ended world of dreams, there’s a million ways the new film could go. Also, the last film toyed with an interesting idea before chickening out and dropping it like a hot potato. For a brief window in the film the idea was tossed around “What if Krueger didn’t do it?” What if the bastard son of 100 maniacs wasn’t guilty of the crimes the parents torched him for? It’s a little hard to wrap the head around at first-Freddy’s backstory as a child killer is just so ingrained into the character-but done right, it could work. It could add some sympathy for the character-who wouldn’t want to come back from the dead and wreak vengeance on those who wronged you? Tweak the backstory a bit, or tweak Freddy’s background itself. Take Freddy of the suburbs of Springwood and move it to the city where you can tie in social issues plaguing the urban communities. There’s so much fertile ground that can be explored, why box a new creative team in by sticking to a thirty year old formula?

Do fans have reason to be skeptical about a new Elm Street (or TCM, Halloween, Friday the 13th entry for that matter) film? Sure. The track record from the past ten years is pretty piss poor. Still, let’s not bury the damn thing before it even gets a script. Hammer Studios released The Horror of Dracula in 1958, 27 years after Universal released Dracula. If the internet existed back then, we may never have gotten multiple awesome portrayals of the Count from Lee, since the horror community would be up in arms since Lugosi was “their” Dracula. That would be a damn shame. So stay calm, wait it out, and let’s see what if any good can come from the new Elm Street.