This is the final remake of ‘the big three’ that I needed to see. I’ve seen both of Rob Zombie’s remakes of Halloween and I’ve seen the remake of ‘Friday the 13th’. This was the last one. I’d say that Friday the 13th is my favourite. At least it went about things in the same ‘spirit’ of the originals. The characters were just as terrible as all the other characters from the original films and it was entertaining to watch them get splatted in many different ways by Jason. And also, Derek Mears was a very good Jason. I think he was menacing, and they let him run which made all the difference. The ending was poor but that’s a running theme with all the remakes as they had to set up a sequel regardless of whether or not they will make one.
As for Rob Zombie’s ‘attempt’ at the Halloween films, although I think that the characters in the films were poorly written, I can see what he was trying to do. I still don’t see a reason to explain the fifteen years that Michael spent in the asylum because it’s really not important, but I suppose it’s OK because Rob Zombie didn’t do that anyway. What’s not OK is boring the tits off me which is what those segments did. He didn’t explain why Michael went mad, it just extended his time in the asylum which again, didn’t reveal anything significant. There’s a reason why they didn’t show those years in the original, because they were really fucking boring. Dr Loomis explaining those years to Sheriff Brackett was perfect. In short, whilst I really didn’t enjoy what Rob Zombie did differently, at least he tried to do something different when he wasn’t trying to imitate the original.
However, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is the laziest kind of remake. Not quite at Gus Van Sant’s ‘Psycho’ level of laziness but it’s getting there.
The opening scene is a great intel as to how this film will deliver its content.
It starts with a character, Dean (Kellan Lutz) in a diner and then Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) shows up and he wakes up. Instantly, we know what kind of film this is in two ways. In the first, it will be the original but redone as a modern day ‘jump-scare’ extravaganza with virtually no imagination and also, its portrayed in a way that assumes the audience has seen the original because it takes so much from it.
I do plan on doing a ‘Video Redux’ on this so I won’t delve too much into the differences between the two but I will say that the remake seems to have forgotten that there will be people who watch it who haven’t seen the original so this is the first time that they’re being introduced to this universe. There are effective moments that were stolen from the original and then ruined.
A prime example is the death of Kris (Kate Cassidy). She’s set up to be the ‘final girl’ just like Tina from the original. Since Dean was her boyfriend and Freddy made him slit his own throat at the start, she asks her ex-boyfriend, Jesse (Thomas Dekker) to sleep over with her. Of course, she ends up gutted by Freddy and the classic scene of her being dragged up the wall repeats except it runs for about a quarter of the time so it has far less impact. The scene from the original was drawn out and painful (in a good way) to watch.
Because chunks of the film take place in a dream world, this is one instance where I understand the use of CGI. As we know, CGI is readily accessible these days and it doesn’t cost as much to get great looking effects.
Why they needed to fuck up Freddy with effects, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you if Jackie Earle Haley did a good job because he didn’t do anything. His Freddy is more in tone to the Freddy from the original which is basically not very talkative. BUT even I can tell that his lines were not very well dubbed in post-production and then filled with a shit-ton of effects to the point where I noticed all this. The very act of me noticing all this really killed any immersion because of Freddy’s over-exposed, booming voice.
I don’t know if they did this because the makeup and his lips made it difficult to talk? It looked like it but I don’t know. Actors have found ways to talk through difficult circumstances. Jim Carrey managed to talk through the huge set of comedy teeth in his mouth when his ‘Mask’ makeup was applied.
They also changed Freddy’s backstory. In the original, it was inferred but I don’t think it was ever confirmed that Freddy was a child molester. I think it was originally written that way but then there was a big news story involving a nursery and certain ‘accusations’ and due to this, it was changed to Freddy being a killer. Instead, any sexual aspects portrayed in the original were all subtext.
In the remake, Freddy definitely is a child molester. In fact, it’s a key element of the story. Instead of Freddy hunting the children of Elm Street to punish the parents for killing him, Remake Freddy is hunting the children for telling their parents about the abuse which resulted in the parents burning him alive. Apparently, Freddy’s ‘favourite’ was Nancy.
Nancy is played by Rooney Mara who has gone on to be in some quite high-profile stuff which to me is surprising because in this film, she’s terrible. She doesn’t seem to be all that bothered about all of her friends dying around her and even when Freddy is launching his dream-assaults at her, she makes the most half-hearted attempt to remove herself from the situation as possible. It’s not immediately obvious that Quentin (Kyle Gallner) is her love interest because she doesn’t seem to be at all interested in him.
The ending is as disappointing as you’d imagine. Nancy pulls Freddy out from the dream world and after a short and underwhelming fight where he gets the better of Quentin, Nancy half-decapitates him with a paper cutter blade whilst mirroring the end of ‘Freddy Vs Jason’ complete with the ‘Welcome to my world, Bitch’ line which is a good line but completely used in the wrong context and just made this serious film turn silly.
At the very end, Nancy and her mother (who was present for Freddy’s burning) arrive home from the hospital and things are normal for about 30 seconds before Freddy bursts through the mirror, kills Nancy’s mother and drags her into the mirror. That’s the end. We all knew something had to happen because like I said before, remakes need to at least pretend that there’s going to be more films but so far, only ‘Halloween’ has followed through and even the first ‘Halloween’ remake arguably didn’t finish with a sequel hook. They could have gotten away with not making a second film… it actually may have done them some good.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ had a budget of $35 Million which is a whopping $33.2 Million more than the original but that was 1984 money. In fact, adjusted for inflation, the original would have cost just over $2.5 Million if it were made in 2010 and just under $3 Million if it were made today.
Still, $35 Million is a pretty good amount for a film these days and this ‘Nightmare’ is pretty heavy on the effects, so I’ll let it slide especially since the remake made $115.6 Million but it was always going to make loads of money. If there’s any surer way of making money in the film industry, it’s to remake something with a hardcore fanbase. There’s one major risk with doing something like that. You have to make sure that the film is absolutely A1, awesome, the best thing since the dogs bollocks otherwise the aforementioned hardcore fanbase will verbally assassinate it… and that brings us nicely to the reviews.
There weren’t many positive reviews with a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with many criticizing the script, the performances, the reliance on CG but more than a few critiques were aimed at the new Freddy and although I’ve had thing to say, I do think that’s unfair.
Meaning no disrespect to Mr. Haley, I never expected the new Freddy to surpass what Robert Englund did for 8 movies. It’s not like with Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Those two were almost always played by different stuntmen; we all know Kane Hodder played Jason four times and George Wilbur played Michael Myers in Halloween 4 and then returned for Halloween 6 but apart from that, whilst a new person inside the costume may have added something when it came to how they moved, there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘character’ on display. Freddy was a rare instance of a slasher movie villain who talked, he had character, a personality and in the later films, he became almost cartoonish, but it was all a huge part of what made the franchise so successful. To me, Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger and no actor will surpass his performance.
In summary, this remake missed out on a huge opportunity. With what we’ve learned and what we can do today, the makers had a chance to do something completely different with this film. To call it a remake, all you really needed was Freddy. They could have changed everything else and I doubt anyone would have complained.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ has already been done and it was successful. All the remake accomplished was taking the ideas from the original that were unique and give them a modern twist which just made it boring because we’ve seen it all before. It was very formulaic, hitting all the same beats as the original and all the stuff that they did change didn’t really matter. I didn’t really like any of the protagonists and frankly thought they looked too old to be playing high-school kids.
I liked the original Nancy. She was smart about her approach to taking down Freddy, but this new Nancy thinks it’s a great idea to pitch her skinny teenager frame against ‘the dream demon’ and hope to come out on top since Quentin was completely useless.
In short, if you want to watch ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, I still recommend the original over the remake but then again, did you expect me to say anything different? I miss Wes Craven.
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