One from the rewatch pile…
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Film: For a brief period, the film company Platinum Dunes were a classic horror remake machine, giving us remakes of A Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th, and guess what? I really dug them! Honestly, I prefer the remake to TCM as it doesn’t contain the character ‘Franklin’ (as soon as I hear his annoying voice in the original, my brain shuts down and I have trouble enjoying any scene with him in it) and with F13, I just think of it as another sequel with a bit of an origin re-telling in it.
A Nightmare on Elm Street though, is a different kettle of fish. In the TCM and F13 films, Leatherface and Jason are like forces of nature, with very little characterisation but Freddy Krueger, and Robert Englund’s portrayal of him, is how a classic villainous characterisation should be done.
Realistically, anyone could, and did, play the roles of Jason and Leatherface (and Michael Myers for that matter) but Freddy Krueger and Robert Englund are each other’s alter ego. So how does one go about recasting someone like that?
Answer: you can’t.
The task was assigned to Jackie Earle Healey, who brilliantly played Rorschach in Watchmen, and had this been a new IP, a new franchise, he would have been brilliant/ scary/ menacing/ outstanding, but instead, his Freddy was a poor emulation of what Englund had permanently stamped on the character… No, stamps can be washed away: tattooed! Healey did try to make it his own, but the switching between cooing peadophile and dream demon sat weirdly. Also, making him say ‘the boyfriend’ line from the original immediately discounted any attempts at originality.
Several years ago the parents on the children of Elm Street suspected the gardener at the local preschool, Fred Krueger, and rather than go to the police, they decided to hunt him down, and kill him. Several years later, these same kids, now teens, are being haunted, and killed by his spirit in their dreams, and two of the survivors, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) decide to investigate the mystery of who or what is Fred Krueger… But the first thing they find is maybe their parents were wrong about him….
Now here is another issue with this film. About halfway through, the concept of Freddy NOT being a child murderer, and instead is screaming for vengeance of a wrong dealt him makes the film seem like it’s going to go somewhere completely different, but very quickly it ends up back at the same territory as the original. If it have had have chutzpah to go with that idea, it would have separated itself from the original and made viewers almost side with Freddy in his vengeance.
Instead they chickened out and that brief moment of glory was washed away.
The film does have some nice cinematography in it though, and Mara is pretty good too, though her pairing with Gallner, who has basically played the same angry teenaged victim for his entire career never sat well.
The attempt to make Freddy’s make up more like a real burn victim falls flat and is uninteresting, and in combination with the below average CGI (the scissors to the neck sequence is particularly terrible) it all makes for a pretty poor experience.
To sum up: a catastrophic wast of time. Avoid.
Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian blu-ray, though I cannot confirm if it is region B locked. The feature runs at 95 mins, and features a spectacular DTS Master Audio 5.1 score which really is deep and clear. The image is presented in 2.40:1 and is as crisp as you would expect a modern film, short on digital in a digital format. This release also came with a Bluray, DVD and digital copy of the film, so the nightmare continues on every format.
Extras: I love my films to have heaps of extras, and this one actually does, and they are interesting but my cynicism can’t take too much of what the filmmakers say too seriously.
Freddy Reborn: This is an incredibly amusing featurette as it clearly shows that the filmakers didn’t know the character of Freddy Krueger as well as the fanbase does. The only person that really seems to get the gravity of remaking something like ANOES is Jackie Earl Healey, though he does also relish the idea of being the ‘new’ Freddy. It really felt like a bunch of people trying to convince the rest of us that this is good idea. It’s not.
WB Maniacal Movie Mode: This is one of those in-feature extras where as you watch the movie, a window opens up and shows interviews and behind the scenes stuff. It’s a clever way to convey these elements without using interstitial of featurettes.
Focus Points: This extra is actually seven 3 minute shorts that breakdown individual parts of the creation of this film, and includes Makeup Makes The Character, Micronaps, The Hat, Practical Fire, The Sweater, The Glove and The Victims.
Additional Footage: This is two sequences removed from the film for pacing, and an alternate ending. Be thankful these scenes aren’t in there as it makes the film longer.
Score: *** 1/2
WISIA: Is it worth watching again? Put it this way, the only reason I am watching it for the second time is for you, my dear reader, and hopefully I’ll never need to watch it again. It is a travesty of the highest order.