Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Jeezus. Where to start?

I can’t imagine that anyone at Platinum Dunes is a fan of horror. Their list of offenses over the past few years reminds me of a twisted version of the Cleveland Indians owner in Major League.

"I don't just want them to lose. I want them to finish....dead last."

It seems like they actively want to destroy franchises, but can’t because the fans still buy season tickets no matter how bad the players perform.  The twist here is that Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger aren’t around to save the day.  No, the only thing saving these remakes is the audience who keeps paying money to see them.

There’s no reason for this movie other than an insatiable addiction to money on the part of Michael Bay.  It does nothing to improve upon the original and does everything to undermine its memory.  These characters are not people you will relate to or empathize with.  You will not root for their success, nor will you feel a thing when they fail.  There is never a point where you will fear the new Freddy.  There are “jump-moments” that may give you a much needed jolt, but the same effect can be achieved by pulling the old “cat leaps out of the cupboard/dumpster/ medicine chest” device.

Jackie Earle Haley, an actor who is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity due to great performances in films like Watchmen, and Shutter Islandand FOX’s wonderful series Human Target, misses the mark as the new incarnation of Freddy Krueger.  He recycles the Rorschach voice and never really seems to be relishing his handiwork like Robert Englund did in the original.  The more authentic make-up of this new vision works against him as well.  It’s very convincing and he does look very much like an actual burn victim, but that’s more of a problem than a benefit.  It drastically limits his facial movement and, thus, his ability to emote from under it.

Keep a stiff upper lip, Freddy! And the rest of your face, while your at it.

He still sports the three familiar accouterments of the original Freddy; the claw, the fedora and the striped sweater. However, unless I missed something, the claw no longer makes sense and here’s why;  Freddy is a child molester in this version. Molester. Not a killer, like in the 1984 version.  If he never killed any children before being burned to death by angry parents, why did he construct the glove in the first place?  Was it to help him prune bushes in his job as “gardener at a pre-school”? If so, that’s never shown.  Did he make the claw because his psychosis was escalating and he planned to start killing had he not been stopped? Who knows.

Is he guilty? Is he innocent?

There’s also an attempt to inject a bit of mystery into the whole Freddy situation, in that the question is raised as to his actual guilt.  Is he innocent and seeking revenge against the children who lied? Or is he guilty and seeking revenge against the children who told the truth?  If you think a Platinum Dunes production would have the balls to take the edgier road on this question, you are mistaken.

I read an interview with JEH where he stated that he was signed on for sequels.  Unless Platinum Dunes can pull their shit together, I hope he can wriggle his way out of it.  He’s too good an actor to be in this kind of thing.  So is Clancy Brown, for that matter.  Everyone else in the cast, however, is firmly in their comfort zone.  The kids being hunted are utterly forgettable and are played by the usual twenty-something actors who are playing high-school students.  Maybe the statistics about elevated hormones in milk are true, but I don’t recall that many juniors in my high school days sporting full beards.

The effects are a mix of acceptable practical gore and some slightly sub-par CGI.  Nothing too great, but nothing too dreadul either in that department.  There’s really nothing here to garner its R rating, except perhaps the whole “child-molestation” premise. I’m sure the Bluray/DVD release will feature an uncut version, but a few more seconds or the red stuff won’t even come close to warranting giving this look.

As I walked home from the theater, I pondered that my money would have been better utilized had I given it to a homeless person.  But then I thought better of it.  What if I had done it and that homeless person had used the money to see A Nightmare on Elm Street?  I’d feel bad.  I don’t want that kind of responsibility.

Me: “Now, this money is for wine! Understand? This is not for A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Homeless Guy: “Yeah, yeah, man. I gotcha.”

Me: “I’m serious!  Next time I see you, you’d better be drunk! Don’t you let me catch you coming out of the movie theater!”

In summary, it’s a sad statement when Freddy vs Jason is a better watch than the F13 remake and now the Nightmare on Elm Street one as well.

A far more frightening NoES re-imagining! Almost as horrifying as Milhouse having two spaghetti meals in one day!

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