April 18, 2014

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Freddy Gets Fingered

BY KEVIN CRUST

As we head head into the final weekend of spring before movie summer kicks into high gear, it might be a good time to catch up with some of the releases that will soon be evicted from theaters by “Iron Man 2″ and the tentpoles that follow. This week’s new offerings are thin to say the least, unless you have a fondness for Freddy.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Jackie Earle Haley parlays his Oscar nomination for “Little Children” and roles in “Watchmen” and “Shutter Island” into the presumably lucrative gig of wearing Freddy Krueger’s hat. Haley takes over Robert Englund‘s nasty habit of scaring the sleep out of teens and slashing them to bits with bladed glove. Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner head the cast of preyed upon young ‘uns who desperately try to stay awake to avoid Freddy. Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer are credited with adapting Wes Craven‘s 1984 original. Veteran commercial and music video director Samuel Bayer (Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) makes his feature debut.

For a horror movie to even be screened for critics is a bit unusual, but “Nightmare” took the challenge with mixed to poor results. EW’s Owen Gleiberman had high hopes for this revival, especially with the casting of Haley, and rates it above the rest of the horror reboot wannabes, but ultimately, he’s disappointed by the slick, “by-the-numbers” rendering. A.O. Scott of the New York Times credits the filmmakers with returning to the spirit of Craven’s version rather than some of the campier successors, but also cites the “overly familiar scare tactics.” Other critics report that Freddy has been declawed and made generic with Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News laying the blame on writers Strick and Heisserer, calling the remake a “bludgeoning” of the original.

From a business standpoint, a horror remake is the perfect film to release this weekend as it will be one-and-done once IM2 lands. According to B.O. pundits, “Nightmare” should easily win the weekend, raking in approximately $30 million, but will likely fall short of the $40m+ earned by New Line’s last horror relaunch, “Friday the 13th.”

“A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET” TRAILER

FURRY VENGEANCE

You can never really be sure when congenial star Brendan Fraser‘s career has bottomed out, but this would seem to be a likely candidate. The actor plays dorky a real estate developer whose supposedly “green” housing tract tears into a forest and encounters the wrath of the local wildlife. Brooke Shield plays his wife. Roger Kumble of “Cruel Intentions” (if only this title were a sequel to that) directs from Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert’s script.

Most of the top critics stayed away from this one and those that didn’t wish they had. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly goes fairly easy on, giving Carnes, Gilbert and Kumble a passing grade and props for NOT having the animals talk. However, Claudia Puig sums up the majority opinion, declaring it “easily the worst movie of the year.”

Other than the fact that some people will drag their kids to see anything remotely marketed at families, “Furry” has little going for it. It should do sub-$10m numbers and could even fall behind the long-running “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“FURRY VENGEANCE” TRAILER

About Kevin Crust

KEVIN CRUST is a Southern California-based writer and editor of the Eclectic Odeon Review, an online guide to seeing movies in Los Angeles, launching in March 2010. In 18 years at the Los Angeles Times, he worked as a copy editor, senior researcher and staff writer. For most of the past decade, he was a key part of the Times' award-winning film department, coordinating the Calendar section's popular Sneaks issues, writing columns on alternative cinema and DVDs, and reviewing hundreds of movies. His work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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