Nightmare On Elm Street
Director: Samuel Bayer
Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Yes, another remake of a classic horror move, however I am not like some (most?) old school horrorheads who dismiss out of hand any remake of the fright flicks I grew up loving. While I would much rather see Hollywood bring out new horror films instead of continuing the endless remake express, I do go into each of them with an open mind, which is more than I can say for many other horror critics.
More than a few internet fright fans had this movie tagged as complete crap months before it was ever released and after watching it, giving them the benefit of a doubt that they actually did watch it, all they seemed to do was to cut and paste the bile they had already been spewing about it and called it a review. Sorry but blatant, blind, fanboy-ism and pissing all over something just for the sake of pissing all over it always puts me in a foul mood. I mean really, the three big complaints that I heard about this movie before, during, and after it’s release was “Waaaa, they dare remake a movie I loved from my childhood;” followed quickly by “Waaaa, Robert Englund isn’t Freddy Kruger so it’s going to suck;” and the always present, “Waaaa, Michael Bay produced it and he is the spawn of Satan.” Wow, way to give a film a chance, guys.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to champion this latest remake. Far from it, and in fact if you ask me if this movie is better, or even just as good as the original, I will have to say no. Perhaps even hell no. That said, it’s not completely horrible. There are a lot of good things in it, but there’s a lot more that just plain don’t work and a few that are truly horrible.
But I would suggest trying to put the internet trolls out of your mind and give this movie a shot. I did, and I’m happy I did. So, let me give you my two cents on this flick. I mean, that kind of is my job and all.
The remake is faithful in the basics of the story; there was a creepy named Freddy who did bad things to children so the parents of the kids burned him all up. Unfortunately that just made him really mad and some years later he’s back stalking the dreams of the children of those same vigilante parents.
So ok, faithfulness is a good thing, but one of the things that I didn’t like about this movie are the scenes taken from the original that were redone here basically shot for shot. Way to show off zero creativity, filmmakers. Another thing that I absolutely hated in this outing is the over reliance of horrible looking CGI effects, especially if they are completely not needed.
One of the scenes they redid was the famous one where Freddy starts coming out of the wall over the bed of a sleeping girl. In the 1984 original this effect was done for about fifty cents with some painted spandex and good lighting. Here they spent a couple thousand on some cheesy looking CGI and it looks so cartoonish it breaks your suspension of disbelief. So what, no one makes spandex anymore?
Also, the teens that Freddy is targeting are about as deep as puddles and complex as putting on Velcro shoes. They are cardboard at best and I never once felt anything for them nor cared if they got chopped up into kibble. Contrast that with the original four kids from the first movie, each with their own unique personality, and the differences become jarring.
So is there anything good about this movie, you ask?
Again, I would say hell yes and the main reason for that is big bad Freddy himself. While Robert Englund will always be Freddy for me, Jackie Earle Haley did an amazing job making Freddy creepy, nasty, sick, and scary as all hell. Gone are the silly one liners that all but ruined the later Nightmare sequels for me. Well, they’re mostly gone, this Freddy does have a few groan worthy jokes of his own. Also this Freddy with his explicit taste for molesting and torturing little children is far, far, far more icky and evil then Freddy was even in the first movie. And man, that’s saying something because Freddy was never better than he was in Wes Craven’s original movie.
While Mr. Haley is easily the best thing about this movie, and worth seeing the film just for him, there are other things worth mentioning. There’s a nice bit of character bait and switch, which I’m sure upset the aforementioned Freddy fanboys to no end, and a bit of a mystery that while didn’t really work for me, I do applaud for trying something new. Oh and the stuff about micro-naps, or little tiny dreams that can hit anywhere, I also kind of dug because you know, the inevitable dread of knowing that sometime, no mater what you do, you’re going to fall asleep, just wasn’t scary enough I guess.
Ok, so I liked the movie on it’s own merits, but how’s the new Blu-ray?
Well the video looks amazing, but that’s to be expected. One mark against this release is the lack of an audio commentary track, as I love those. But New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers do make up for that with an extensive “Maniacal Movie Mode” which is a video commentary of sorts that occasionally pop up, picture in picture style, with all sorts of interviews, behind the scenes glimpses, and featurettes while the actual movie is playing. If you don’t like getting your inside info that way, many of the featurettes can be viewed one at a time whenever you want. There is also a stand alone featurette about the re-imagining and reinventing of Freddy Kruger that I really liked as it showed how much thought the filmmakers were putting into their version of a classic monster. Lastly there three cut scenes including a an alternate opening and ending.
All in all I’m happy to have this movie in my home library. Sure, most of the time when I go to watch Nightmare On Elm Street it will be the original, but I will be watching this film again, and again, and again, I have no doubt. That’s more than what I can say for most movies, remakes or not.