30 April 2010 1136 Views

A Nightmare on Elm Street Review: A Remake Done Right

by Scott Caldwell

There seems to be a trend that is all the rage, and by rage, I mean a trend that pisses people off. This is the era of taking what some people would call their memories, or their childhood, then revamping it into a completely different version, using the same names, and over using the term “reboot”. To me, a reboot is telling us the original was not good enough, so “here’s what I think about that film you all loved so much”. Majority of the time, it’s not a satisfactory outcome. So, with this butchering taking place, what would make a director, let alone a music video director, think he can be different. What makes him think he can take one of, if not, the most iconic character in movie history, and do what he wants with it. Well, it all depends on your expectations when you go into the film.

As everyone SHOULD know, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was released in 1984, and told the story of a group of teenagers who were being tormented in their sleep by a terrifying figure covered in burns, named Freddy Krueger. Simply put, you sleep….you die. Freddy, dubbed the “The Springwood Slasher”, was accused of murdering the children of Springwood, and set free, only to be trapped and burned alive by the parents of the same town. Now, Freddy takes his revenge on said parent’s children. Picking them off one by one.


In the 2010 film, that tale is taken one step further. Freddy is still Freddy, but the plot throws in something different. He’s not just a child killer. He’s a child molester. You’ve now created a new form of monster that send chills well before the burn marks and the razor glove come to play. You now have a villain who was terrorizing long before he was created. You know are given these pieces that as they each come together, the film is becoming more and more a horror film in it’s own, and not just a remake. It has a backbone that chills you, and makes you fear a little more with each scene.



There are two ways to see this film. You can go into excited that there is a new Freddy movie since the Freddy vs. Jason film, and it gives you that character back on the big screen. You can also go into the theater knowing that this is not Robert Englund and more than likely have disappointment before the film even starts. I can honestly say that if you are comparing the two films immediately, you are choosing the wrong way to watch it. Yes, Robert Englund IS Freddy. He has been since the start. And when you take something so major out of a film, and try to replace it, the replacement is going to hear it, and get ripped to pieces, without given a chance. It’s all apart of that changing history I mentioned earlier. But it’s not like they went with some no named child actor. Well, they kinda did. I’ll get the new Krueger portion in a bit.

If you go back to the original film, the cast of the teenagers were a bunch of fresh faced kids, not known for their acting chops, coming into a film that not only has never been done before, but a film that was going to make movie history, and spawn numerous characterized killers for all to love or hate. That film being such a new experience was not looked into for the accreditation of its cast. Only how they were killed on screen. Now, you come into the new film, and take a cast of attractive emo kids, and it’s no longer new. It seems as if for their roles, they only watched the original film once, and then went back to shopping and tweeting. The acting was not there out of this group. It got annoying that the entire group was a bunch of whiny, miserable kids who have no colors in their closets other than black, gray, and stained white. You went from fresh faced in 84′, to eye liner on everyone in 2010. No one stood out as a character to remember. Everyone remembers Nancy Thompson, but no one will remember Nancy Holbrook.

Samuel Bayer, who is music video/concert direct, has a great style of directing…..when it comes to music videos. You cram a lot of stuff into a 3 minute clip, swap some pictures around, and burn some wholes in the film with a cigarette. It’s what he does. And now he thinks he can take on a full length feature film? Who does this guy think he is!

Well, he’s a director that did a pretty damn good job on his first feature length film. When you see the opening credits, you see what could be Bayer’s interpretation of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”. It has the look and feel of his videos, and quite frankly, made me fear for the rest of the film’s style. While filled with a lot of darkness and smoke, and very little set design, I feel that helped add another level on the fear scale. You were given a chance to focus more on Freddy, and it allows you to see the new version for what he is. Some great silhouetted shots and a great deal of Freddy up close, which is something that reboots/remakes are known for lacking, not enough of what you want to see. Bayer also did a great job of scare placement. Some you knew were coming, some you thought they were coming and never happened, and some that just show up out of nowhere and scare the shit out of you (and me, I’ll admit it). The gore was not as present as its predecessors, but the kills were great, and get some great crowd reactions.



And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. the Freddy portion of the review. When we were first told that Jackie Earle Haley will be taking on the role of Freddy Krueger, I for one was excited. He’s more recently bombarded our TV sets and movies over the past year, but it’s not like he’s a flavor of the week. He’s a great actor who can do the part, not get typecast, and make you feel good about what you are watching. Instantly criticized and ridiculed for taking the role instead of having Englund back can either make or break you. Will it motivate one to do a better job and “show them all”, or maybe you’ll just brush it off and get to work. I’m going with the first.

From the first time he steps onto the screen as the new Krueger, it feels good. He visually fits the part. His motions and mannerisms are very reminiscent of the original, and he flat out does an impressive job. Of course comparing his voice to Rorschach’s is going to happen, and already has, but as the film goes on, you get use to it, and depending on his lines, you may become afraid of it. You are now looking at a new Freddy. One that is in your dreams to scare you, not to give you a tacky one liner and a pun, while some are present, the mood is far from fun. Freddy is sick and demented person. And he acts like it.

Also adding to the fear is the makeup used on Jackie. Freddy is a burn victim, and the new makeup portrays that from the eye openings, to the nose, to the mouth. What once was a bright red burn spot is now a deep red and brown burn hole. What once were bright eyes, big and wide, are now tight and dark, while still giving you a glimpse of some color and the person that once existed. This Freddy is going to stick around for a while.

Final Grade: B+
New Freddy Grade: A



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