After all the negative press and reviews surrounding this film, I was actually surprised at how… decent it was. My first, and foremost, concern with the film prior to its release was the look of the new Fred Krueger.
Taking over the helm of the infamous Freddy Krueger is Jackie Earle Haley, whom some of you who are old enough may remember as Kelly in The Bad News Bears. But, most likely, most will remember him as the mask-clad anti-hero Rorschach in Watchmen. Being that the filmmakers were aiming to portray a darker Krueger, I didn’t think that hiring someone who is much shorter than Englund and looked more like a hermit would payoff on screen. Immediately, I was turned off by the new Freddy look as well as his voice. Being that this is a Platinum Dunes release by way of Michael Bay, I was a little sketchy. You may know Platinum Dunes as the folks responsible for such remake “hits” as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher and Friday the 13th. Already, the first thing that came to mind as to why this movie was even made (judging by its previous forays into remakes) was the prospect of making tons of money. I think with the latest entry of A Nightmare on Elm Street there may have been a slight effort to make a decent film.
The moment I saw Haley as Freddy Krueger on screen, the first thing that came to mind was that he looked like a burned ninja turtle. As far as his voice, it was a blend of the old Robert Englund Krueger and Christian Bale as Batman. Both of these things, as the film progressed, was slightly forgivable (there are just some things you don’t mess with).
There were a few things that were altered from the original hence making this more of a re-imagining rather than an all out remake. Of course, there were scenes that were stolen directly from the original but i think this was a semi-worthy re-imagination (for a non-worthy remake, see Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II). One of the changes made were the names of the characters, with the exception of Nancy. I couldn’t quite understand why this decision was made as everyone familiar with the original can pretty much tell who’s who despite their different names.
Tina, now known as Chris, sits in the drivers seat for about the first 3o minutes of the film with Nancy taking a backseat. Tina Chris takes the helm in trying to uncover what is happening to her and other kids of Elm Street misleading the audience into believing that she will be the heroine of the film. Whereas in the original, where there was a small group of four friends who solely relied in the comfort of one another, in this film, although all of the characters knew each other, it was hard to tell whether they were truly friends or not.
This was a big problem in the film. I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters. There was very little emotional attachment to any of the characters, if any at all. This speaks volumes about director Samuel Bayer who helms from the music video world. I am not going to say that the acting was bad in the film (which it was) because the actors themselves were bad but, rather, because I don’t think there was good direction given to them. Sure, I think the kids in the movie acted like typical, emo teenagers where they would probably act in a real-life situation (whiny, dramatic). It was a little of an annoyance but, again, it was something I overlooked as the film progressed and took it in stride. Also, in the original Nightmare, there was a sense of urgency amongst the characters and they genuinely cared for one another, seen mostly through the eyes of the tormented character Nancy. Not so much in this film. Like I said before, you really don’t care about any of the characters and almost everything seems to happen in fast forward where the actions in the film are quickly accepted, ie:
I’m having a dream about some crazy guy with knives for fingers!
What?! Me too!
We all believe you!
Let’s stop him!
Because of this fast progression and revelations, it made the film very unrealistic and unlike the original where one of Nancy’s main struggle was getting people to believe her and finding that emotional support.
What about the deaths?
In recent years, there has been many talk about “original” deaths. The only time I was “concerned” about an “original” death was with the Final Destination franchise because, let’s face it, the need for original deaths was necessary in order to make these films successful. Of course, being that Freddy Krueger dominates the dream world, there are endless ways to die. However, I think that personal revenge is bittersweet enough and that comes across in the film. No elaborate tricks, no “cool” deaths. Simple and to the point.
There was some talk about the use of CGI as opposed to the lack of its use in the original, primarily because the technology didn’t exist at the time in the early 80′s. Watching the clips in the commercial that consisted of said CGI made me roll my eyes. Fortunately for me and the many fans of the old-school method of horror, there was not too much of it used in the film. For the most part, I think the use of CGI was completely unnecessary and seemed to be used out of simple laziness and for what the filmmakers may have deemed as “cool-looking”.
However, credit is due on a large scale to the art and set departments, as well as cinematographer Jeff Cutter who created a well representation of the dream world as well as atmosphere which, in my opinion, was the scariest thing about the movie. Yes, unfortunately, the movie was not scary at all but it did make for a semi-good mystery for those not familiar with the Freddy Krueger back story. Because of this, like all other Platinum Dunes releases, this film seems to cater to a new generation of horror fans. Those familiar with the Krueger back story (which was altered slightly in this film) don’t need a recap of the history.
In the end, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original film, in both story and Robert Englund. Haley, although surprisingly decent, still cannot match the tenure of Englund. I would, however, recommend everyone to wait until it is released on home video or at least a bargain matinee. There is really nothing new in this film and nothing we all haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, Platinum Dunes brought nothing new to the table and, in the end, the main goal of this new Nightmare was to make some green as is apparent with the recent announcement of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Already?! I know. Still, the film surprised me in that it wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be and can still be viewed as mild entertainment, if not for the story, then for the great cinematography and atmospheric mood. There is one thing that’s certain, don’t go in looking to be scared. What you can expect is cheap thrills and scares, ala loud noises, bangs and”jump” scares. This movie gets an extra start simply because, well, it is Freddy Krueger. All in all, not too bad.
After reading many other reviews concerning this movie, it really seems that a lot of fans of the original are going in with high expectations of the film. One reviewer said that this adaptation lacked a couple of things that the original supplied plenty of: mainly blood and sex! Really, if the amount of blood and the amount of sex that is portrayed in a movie determines its status, then all Disney movies are doomed! Seriously, pick a better argument than that. I understand that the original is a little hard to touch because, well, it se the bar. However, like i said previously, don’t go into this movie expecting something Oscar-worthy.
Many arguments also state that it was boring. Ok, so there wasn’t a death scene every two minutes, there wasn’t action and explosions. So what! The story is always king! And since this is a rehash of an already told story, what do you expect? You kind of already know what to expect!