A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010
This razor fingered villain of legendary proportions makes an inevitable return to the big screen but is he the Freddy we remember? In a word - no. Since all the big horror franchises are getting the remake treatment it was predictable that Craven's classic slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street would catch someone's eye. When I first heard about it with Michael Bay's name attached I felt sick but then they cast Jackie Earle Haley and I started to believe that it just might be worth seeing.
I've always been a big fan of the Nightmare franchise. Even the cheesy outings were greedily consumed in my youth alongside the Friday the 13th and Halloween movies. There's no doubting part 6 was the horrifying 3D low point but I enjoyed both New Nightmare and Freddy vs Jason which followed. With Robert Englund getting older and Wes Craven apparently done with it, the franchise was all set to die, but in true 80's slasher villain style it came back from the dead.
The new version is odd. The basic story is essentially unaltered. Freddy Krueger haunts the nightmares of a bunch of teens and if he kills them in their dreams they die for real. This time around the whole mood is much more sombre and that's perhaps because they don't skirt around Freddy's crimes. In the new outing he is definitely a sadistic paedophile.
It starts off slow and then it puts on the brakes. Seriously the first half of the film is so painfully ponderous that you'll start to feel sleepy. Things do pick up as the teens discover they share nightmares and the bodies begin to pile up but, because anyone familiar with these characters knows the story, the way it is drawn out is frustratingly boring.
It's like they made this film for people who have never heard of Freddy Krueger before. The writers appear to have cherry picked their favourite scenes from the original and first time full feature director Samuel Bayer has ruined each and every one of them. The imaginative death scenes and nightmare imagery are scant and every time it looks like the film might attempt something original it scuttles away into the darkness again in favour of another shot of some industrial pipes, steam and Freddy scraping his razors along the wall.
You can't blame the cast. I felt sorry for Jackie Earle Haley because he clearly attempts to bring something new to the role but he is completely hamstrung by the script. The teen players are all relatively innocuous and the rest of the cast is on the whole pretty decent. The script is not. Leaps of logic abound and sadly there isn't enough tension or excitement to pull your attention away from the plot holes.
The lack of camp humour is pretty disastrous and Krueger is impossible to like in this incarnation. They always avoided explicitly stating that he was some kind of molester in the past because, daft as it may seem, being a straightforward child killer is somehow more acceptable. Without the humour or attitude he is just a brutal and nasty character and yet he still isn't scary, more pathetic. They spend too long on the awful flashbacks and lose that mythical bogeyman feel he has in the original film. They also tie him directly to his victims here as he returns to finish the job he started before he was killed and I suppose that actually makes more sense than the original but it still isn't enjoyable.
Too much screen time for Freddy, terrible flashbacks, a dull script and lacklustre direction conspire to make a movie watching experience I really didn't expect - total boredom. It wasn't even really bad enough to make me angry it was just disappointing and lifeless. On the plus side Freddy's make up was great.
They've already announced a part 2 so we just need to keep our fingers crossed that they get a new director and some new writers in. As for this, I'd be interested to know what someone who'd never seen a Nightmare film before thought of it. For someone who has it is best avoided.Short Review
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