Ghostbusters – Afterlife

Director: Jason Reitman. Stars: Finn WolfhardMckenna GraceCarrie Coon, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Logan Kim, Paul Rudd

Ghostbusters – Afterlife ⭐⭐⭐

I was a teenager when the original film was first released (I know, that gives away my age, but in my defence I’m still Peter Pan at heart). Even back then then I was aware of how silly it all was, but also that it was doing something quite unique for the time: mixing (very funny) comedy and (quite scary) horror on a large budget. And while that film was clearly a product of the 80s (gender inequality, montage scenes cut to famous pop music, obligatory crowd clapping the heroes moments, “what-the-hell-were-we-thinking” haircuts and so on) 38 years later it’s impossible not to feel sentimental about it.And it’s exactly that sense of nostalgia that is the main force driving this new version: I could fill pages with all the nods and winks spread across the film, some more subtle than others.

And beyond the fondness towards the original film itself, “Afterlife” is also latching onto the 80s revival that’s been riding strong over the last few years, from the way the film is paced (rather slow for an action/adventure film), the way it’s structured, the look of it, even going as far as casting one of the leads from “Stanger Things”, the ultimate 80s Love-fest.

The main plot itself is also complete rehash of the original (literally the same beats, especially during the second half), but it has to be said that without Bill Murray‘s impeccable comedic timing and deadpan face at the centre of it, many of the laughters have now been replaced by a lot of “teenage mystery”, which makes the film looking more like some sort of “Goonies” mixed in with “Lost Boys” (again, more 80s stuff) rather than an actual Ghostbuster film. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and to be honest I don’t think the film is as bad as critics are making it, but if you are looking for what winning formula of sparkling comedy and creepy horror which made that first one so enduring, you may get disappointed.

Other than that, I can promise you this film just as silly, preposterous and over the top as it’s always been (Go and re-watch the original again if you don’t believe me and only vaguely remember it). Kids will love it, and so those who are emotionally attached to the first film… All the others will probably go “meh…”-Also, whether audiences will take the last act as a homage to the first film (and poignant tribute to the late Harold Ramis, one of the 4 original members of the Ghostbusters) or just a terribly shmaltzy and misjudged cash-in exercise, will remain to be scene. As far as I am concerned, I’ve got a big heart and I really didn’t mind it.

Cheesy yes… But sweet too.And finally, do stay in right to the end of the credits, for the obligatory post-credit extra scenes. Two in fact, if you’ve got any will left in you. A pointless first so-what scene and then another which hints at more mayhem to come in the inevitable sequel which might just happen is if there is enough appetite for it.

Ghostbusters – Afterlife is out in the cinemas from today

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) ⭐️⭐️

Director: Samuel Bayer. Cast: Jackie Earle HaleyKyle GallnerRooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker

When you decide to remake a horror classic, which is so revered by so many fans, you’re really asking for trouble. In fact I think you lose whatever you do. People will always compare it to the original. So, if you change too many things and make a different movie people might wonder “what the hell was that?”. And if you “re-hashed” the same plot, with the same characters, the same scenes people will obviously say “what was the point of that?” (Psycho’s remake I’m talking to you).Remaking a horror is not impossible (see Carpenter’s “the Thing”, Cronenberg’s “The Fly”, the recent “It”, just to mention a few off the cusp… and why not? “Evil Dead 2” which is really a remake of the first), but the starting point needs to have enough weaknesses to justify the make-over.In this case (like many other times) the only justification is money… and hope for another franchise. This remake feels (and probably is) a film made by ticking a check-list, with decisions made by a corporate committee of people who don’t quite understand what made the series so enduring and loved.

The “magic” of these Freddy films (even the bad ones) was the constant play with dream and reality, the inventiveness of the dreamy/nightmarish landscapes. Here a lot of that has gone. Replaced by a series of loud jump scares, an overstuffed cacophony of noises. They’re so anxious to make us scare that they crammed every single inch of the film with loud sound effects. Every time Freddy appears there’s a bang, or a screech or a swoosh. To top it all off some terrible CGI is used (the worst offender the scene where Freddy comes off from the wall, which now looks more like a clip from Tom & Jerry that a horror) why the cinematography makes it look like the film has fallen into a can of green paint. T

here are also “homages” to the original, scene which despite being virtually identical to the first film (the Bath tub scene or Tina’s death for example) manage to lack the same tension and look tamer than they ever were, making no impact whatsoever. It’s a film that has very few new ideas and those changes they try to bring are so so pointless (the micro-naps introduced and then forgotten) and insulting (the whole child molestation subplot which is so badly handled that it’s almost criminal) that they’re just infuriating. The cast is decent enough and they generally do their best with that very little their given. Poor Rooney Mara is often criticised for her sleepy performance ( that’s a bit unfair especially knowing how poor the original Nancy actually was), but she certainly lacks strength. Which brings me to Freddy himself. Robert Englund made a career out of playing Freddy Krueger, bringing his delicious nastiness and the darkest humour in one amazing turn. It was always going to be a hard act to follow. Jackie Earle Haley certainly knows how to act (as he demonstrated in Little Children a few years before this), but he plays Freddy with the same mono-tone throughout and appears to have no fun at all, but actually he’s not as scary as he should be.It doesn’t help that the director doesn’t quite know what to do with him or how to film him or how to reveal him to the audience.

This is a lifeless, predictable, unimaginative, pointless film which really should never have been made.

Don’t be misled by my 2 stars (purely because it’s generally competently made), but it’s my least favourite of the lot.

Freddy vs Jason

Freddy vs Jason ⭐️⭐️

Director:

Director: Ronny Yu. Cast: Robert EnglundKen KirzingerMonica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Chris Marquette.

I’ve seen many stupid films in my life, but this one must get the crown. To be honest with a title like “Freddy vs Jason” one can’t really expect Shakespeare. It turns out that this is an average Friday the 13th film and a pretty bad “Nightmare on Elm Street” mashed together with a half coherent plot serving as an excuse for the ultimate battle at the end. Needless to say, all the bits with the teen-agers are just expandable as the victims who get knocked off one after the other and the film only comes alive when the two ultra-villains are on screen and especially when they finally come face to face. The final battle is so over-the-top and so stupid that one cannot do anything else but cheer.

This was obviously a film designed for the fans and them alone. The moment during the main titles where the “Nightmare on Elm street” tune turns into the “Friday the 13th” iconic notes is actually a wet dream for any horror fan out there.

It came at a moment when both franchises were at such a low point (in fact pretty much dead) that not even this bad film couldn’t make them any worse, so I guess they had nothing to lose. In fact the film was quite a hit, though I don’t think I know many people who can claim it’s good. And the film-makers certainly knew this, so in order to compensate with the ludicrous storyline, they decided to really go to town with the gore, the idiotic one-liners, the gratuitous breast-naked girls running scared and a few cheap but effective jump scares.

There isn’t a single original idea in it, but it just about gets away with it.In fact there’s a certain silly pleasure in watching this, cheering and drinking every time a cliché hits the screen but it’s all done with great affection for both icons (though clearly Freddy is a more fun character to play with and the film is more of a Freddy film than a Jason one) and it never takes itself too seriously.

This was my first watching and even though I’m sure it’ll be my last, I’m happy I saw it, just as a curiosity guilty pleasure thing.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Wes Craven Cast: Wes Craven, Jeff DavisHeather LangenkampMiko Hughes, Robert Shaye, Robert Englund

I have mixed feeling about this one.

Of course the most interesting aspect about the film is the “meta” layer.A film within a film, where everyone is actually playing a version of themselves. And so the director is actually Wes Craven himself, the head of New Line Cinema is indeed Robert Shaye, the actress who played Nancy in the first movie, Heather Langenkamp, is actually playing the actress Heather Langenkamp and of course Robert Englund is playing the the real actor behind the mask, acting as a showman in front of his fan all screaming for Freddy (though there isn’t enough of him in this film).

It not only brings a breath of fresh air to a very stale franchise, but also brings back that dark edge and mystique into the proceedings making it actually a lot more clever than a slasher has any right to be. Though while on one hand it’s trying to be too clever for its on good (raising things it’s never able to explain) on the other it doesn’t quite go deep enough into exploring the most interesting premises raised at the start and eventually the film falls into the clichés it was trying to avoid so well and becomes just like the films it was questioning at the start (especially in the very weak last act).It’s clear that Wes Craven hates the sequels and he is trying to dissociate himself from them as much as he possibly can, but by doing that he’s also making some changes he didn’t really needed. Freddy’s make-up for a start is possibly the worse of the entire series, looking more rubbery and fake that it’s ever been.

The rules of “the game” are also a bit too fast and loose by now and they show their weaknesses particularly towards the climax where Freddy gets beaten like a real man, delisted the fact that he’s in a dream. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense. There are some decent scenes throughout the movie (a particularly tense one as a child sleepwalks crossing a highway), though most of them are real photocopies of things we’ve seen before in the original: a body being dragged to the ceiling and slashed open by the invisible Freddy, a tongue sticking out of the phone, some stairs melting under the weight of the feet of whoever is running, snakes and worms melting into a puddle, and so on… Some people may call it “homages”, I see it more like a lack of any new ideas.

With all its good intentions to re-invent the wheel and give back some credibility to the scary monster, it has to be said that the “New Nightmare” doesn’t add much new.Wes Craven will of course refine this meta-horror-technique with the various “Scream” movies, finding the right balance of scare, fun and self-references, making the final product less inscrutable and a lot more crowd-pleasing.

Right now it’s just a very clever idea, only half developed.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare ⭐️

Director: Rachel Talalay Cast: Robert EnglundLisa ZaneShon Greenblatt 

So just when you thought the series couldn’t sink any lower after the terrible part 4 and 5, this “final chapter” comes along adding a whole new dimension of idiocy, ludicrousness to the proceedings. It makes me almost want to add an extra star to all the previous episodes in retrospect.Let’s just say that best thing in this film is probably the New Line Cinema Logo at the start. I honestly cannot find a single redeeming feature aside from some pointless cameos, including one from Johnny Deep but let’s be honest, this is definite the weakest in the series and possibly the worst film I’ve seen in the last few years (I was almost tempted to give it zero stars!).

It’s badly directed, shoddily paced and edited, lacks of any tension or ideas: it’s not funny (all the laughs are at the film) and definitely not scary: by now Freddy’s become a joke within a joke, except that he’s not even funny, looking more like Wile e Coyote than a scary boogieman. The special effects are pedestrian to say the list and not just for the standards of today. I remember thinking that they were terrible even back then. The story (if we can call it such) is very very weak, giving Freddy some lame backstory which nobody really needed and the ending is so badly conceived and staged that it’s probably not just one of the most embarrassing moments not just in the whole franchise, but in horror films in general. It was supposed to be “death” for which we had been waiting for 6 films, but when it actually happens, it comes across so abruptly and it passes by so quickly that it’s not just embarrassingly bad, but a real insult to all the fans who’ve been there from the start.

To try to make it more interesting they added some badly done 3D to last reel (about 15 minutes or so), which I vividly remember looking just as bad as it looks on the DVD today, even in 1991 on the big screen).

Over the credits they play a montage of some of the best bits from the previous films, which really only contribute to make you wish you were watching any of those instead.

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