I really wanted to give this movie a chance. I really tried to be fair and not judge it based on the original. I really wanted to forget that it was produced by Platinum Dunes. But, alas, it can not be so. This movie stinks bad. It is, in the end, really boring and/or a piece of sadistic garbage.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the original. I think the A Nightmare on Elm Street series is the best of the mainstream ’80s horror franchises. I think this because it, for one, actually has a moderately well thought out mythology. The major reason I hated this remake, above many other smaller reasons, was its insistence on changing a key detail (spoilers commence now): Freddy Krueger is definitively proven to be an actual child molester. Now, perhaps my memory is faulty, or I have misread some nuance of the original storyline, but I believe this was never the case in the original. Not only is the first film vague, but in Freddy’s Dead, where there is a significant tangential backstory, the school gardener is misinterpreted by the parents of the town to be such a deviant and given a literal trial by fire outside the realm of the Law (now he may have actually killed children; I’m not sure about that, but I believe he was caught and released). It is this “sins of the father, delivered upon the children” detail that allegedly allows Freddy the supernatural power to hunt the children of these parents. That’s the horror element: the children have to fight for their lives, in their dreams, because the parents took Freddy’s away (Just like the kids at Crystal Lake have to do the same because they have pre-marital sex or the residents of Haddonfield have to die because they allowed a child to be locked away in an asylum like a criminal).
This new film defines Freddy as a clear monster removing any ambiguity of morality from the living parents or children. That, dear reader, is what makes this film a total piece of garbage. Why does death allow Freddy to come back and multiply his evil? Without explaining this motivation, it simply appears that the parents (and in turn the children) are suddenly justified in their retaliation, now that the ‘truth’ is known retrospectively. What exactly is the point of THAT? Go ahead and make an argument that this film is some new millennial commentary on our cultural tendencies to voluntarily erase the past or (re)construct history based on our present knowledge (Freddy as a literal terrorist, etc.).
This film just isn’t that smart.
It is curious that the purpose for the change of this relevant detail is left unsupported, while other less innocuous ones, like how the teens are able to keep from literally falling down asleep, are overdone. “Zoneral” and Epinephrine keep the final guy alive (while the girl, in a turn of clear gender bias/commentary, merely chooses to self-immolate herself with the car lighter). And the mention of “micro-naps” excuse the over-occasional scary insert. Please.
The film at times seems to want to stay faithful to the mythology (Nancy does run upstairs after all), but just can’t seem to get a handle on what it’s supposed to be “re-imagining”. Let’s go back to the violation of the final girl rule (Another major spoiler follows): The ‘boyfriend’ stays alive. This should not be so, dear reader. Nancy should be the one to ride away in the ambulance all alone. I mean, she didn’t even get to run through the liminal womb of the woods outside the preschool. Jeez. At least she re-phallicized herself with the paper-cutter machete. If there is a sequel to this remake, perhaps some of these bad decisions or lack of insight will be fleshed out. Though, I’m not sure if I even care.
Why must every Platinum Dunes movie look exactly the same? Dark colors and grainy tones do not a scarier movie make. I am extremely tired of this post-Saw color palette being used by every mainstream horror reboot. People were holding out for Samuel Bayer to contribute some sort of mark on this film to distinguish it from the previous crap remakes, but I don’t think I could tell the difference if you switched all the directors’ names around on the films. Of course, hiring someone who’s actually made a feature-length horror film before might be worth considering in the future as well….
A few more complaints:
Every supporting character in this film was wasted, especially Connie Britton (ditto Clancy Brown).
Kyle Gallner needs to make a movie in which he is 1) not wearing a band t-shirt from before he was born (this time Joy Division), 2) goth eyeliner, or 3) taking drugs. Thank you.
Jackie Earle Haley needs to tell his agent to throw out all scripts requiring him to 1) wear a mask or 2) be a child molester. Ok?
Ok. Again, there’s not much substance here. I just wanted to let YOU know that this movie is disappointing (just in case you were deluding yourself into thinking that it might possibly be good). Just watch the original again. Or Dream Warriors. Heck, watch New Nightmare (probably Wes Craven‘s best film; his own pre-Scream foray into po-mo horror). This might be my most whiny review so far. I’ll try to avoid this in the future, since I try not to review what I don’t like. I just couldn’t help myself with this one.