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Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 174: A Nightmare On Elm Street

A Nightmare On Elm Street
Hat's off to horror

1, 2, Freddy's remade for you. Horror remakes are usually met with fear, anger, and derision from the horror community. Heck, just regular remakes are met the same way. We love our originals and hate to see them re-cut, altered, chewed up, and spat out onto the big screen in hopes of making a few million. A lot of us grew up with these movies and while it's great to see a new generation get into these movies, it's hard to see our favorite things be changed. But not all remakes are horrible. The Dawn of the Dead remake, while different, was still a pretty good horror movie. Could the same be said for a movie based around an iconic character?

A Nightmare On Elm Street is a 2010 remake of Wes Craven's 1984 horror film of the same name. It stars Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, The Social Network) as Nancy Holbrook. Nancy is a waitress at a local diner and serves classmates Dean and his girlfriend, Kris (Katie Cassidy, Black Christmas, When A Stranger Calls). Dean hasn't slept in days, suffering from nightmares that a mysterious burned man is trying to kill him. He drifts into sleep and is killed in his dream by the man, but appears to kill himself in reality to those around him. At Dean's funeral, Kris sees a picture of them together as children, but doesn't remember knowing him when they were young. Kris begins to dream of the burned man and has her ex-boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker, Laid To Rest, Kaboom) stay with her to keep her company. In her dreams, she meets the burned man, and in reality she is supernaturally slammed all across her room before being slashed to death. Jesse flees to Nancy's house, who reveals she also dreams of the man. Jesse is soon arrested for Kris's murder. He tries to stay awake in jail, but falls asleep and is brutally murdered by the same man. Joined by her classmate Quentin (Kyle Gallner, The Haunting in Connecticut, Jennifer's Body), Nancy discovers that they are all connected through the preschool they attended. There, the gardener named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley, Rorschach from Watchmen) sexually abused the children and named Nancy as his favorite. Their parents took justice in their own hands and burned Krueger alive. Now he is back, killing the children who told on him through their dreams. Nancy and Quentin try to stay awake, thinking of a way to beat Freddy, but constantly drift in and out of sleep as he gets closer to killing them. Will Nancy, Freddy's favorite, be able to stop him?

Better moisturize

It's hard not to compare the remake to the original and it's impossible to replace Robert Englund. Robert Englund IS Freddy Krueger. Freddy is all personality and hard to recreate whereas a character like Jason, who is essentially just a big, unkillable bastard in a mask, can be played by anyone meeting the height and weight requirements. That being said, Jackie Earle Haley is very good as a different Freddy Krueger. Gone are the one-liners and funny quips. This Freddy is a darker character, staying more true to Wes Craven's original vision in which Freddy was a child molester. Rooney Mara is good in her role, but her characters reminds me of Raven from the cartoon Teen Titans; drab and kind of bland. As far as horror remakes go, A Nightmare On Elm Street isn't that bad. It's a good introduction for viewers who may not have seen the original. Even Freddy's face is different as they went for a more traditional burn victim look. Unfortunately, it looks stiff and a little boring, more closely resembling a cross between an alien and a burnt English muffin.

The movie itself focuses more on stylistic action and cool violence than comprehensive plot. Now that I think about it, I don't know if they ever explained just how Freddy was able to come back from the dead and haunt dreams. The new Nightmare lacks the proper amount of depth and creativity that helped make the original great. By not being a complete movie, this remake just comes off as a good, but typical supernatural slasher. The special effects are actually pretty good and some of the scenes are quite impressive, such as when the floor in a hallway becomes a pool of thick blood that drags Nancy under. The movie has a good amount of blood, gore, and action. There are a few jumps and scares, but nothing overall terrifying.

What do you mean Phish is sold out?!

Horror fans will always be wary of remakes. We hold our horror close to our gorey hearts. A Nightmare On Elm Street probably didn't need to be remade so soon, but in this day and age, it's amazing it took this long. The basic story and some characters are the same as the original, but it's the specifics that are different, similar to the Dawn Of The Dead remake. I was happy to see some scenes recreated, so at least they did that right. Jackie Earle Haley is a very good, if different, Freddy Krueger and Rooney Mara plays her part well. The movie has some great special effects and lots of blood, but the story feels empty and flat. Thankfully, this remake is not bad. It's just not great.


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