I’ve never been a Freddy fanatic. I adore Freddy and I love some of the Nightmare movies, but I’ll take Michael or Jason any day over Freddy. As I’ve said before, if any series exploited itself to make a buck it’s the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. So when a remake comes about, I’m not one to throw a hissy fit about it. In fact, I was genuinely interested to see a re-imagining of Freddy, who I don’t believe has ever been captured to his full potential. The scene in the original film when Tina crawls around the ceiling in her own blood has never been equaled—not in subsequent scenes in Craven’s film, nor in the sequels. I was glad to see Freddy being taken seriously again (or at least that’s what I thought) and I was hoping for a dark, menacing Freddy as opposed to the quippy, sarcastic Freddy (even though I do love that Freddy). The only thing Platinum Dunes provided was a well-cut trailer that raised false hopes. As a side note, I loved the Friday the 13th remake and genuinely enjoyed the TCM remakes as well. This, however, suffers from the most severe case of “blah” I’ve ever seen.
Freddy's got mad sparklers this time.
Remake, as opposed to re-imagining, is the ideal word for NOES. It is simply a rehashing of iconic visuals and major plot points, while tossing in the occasional “new” idea that only works half of the time. Tina’s death, as well as the boyfriend being blamed and put in jail, is redone less effectively. Familiar images, like the glove in the bathtub between Nancy’s legs, the bodybag in the hallway, and Freddy’s face pushing through the bedroom wall as if it were elastic, are tossed in as if they were part of a checklist. So what’s different about the remake? The “micronap” is introduced, as well as some trickery with Freddy’s past and his relationship to the teenagers of Elm Street.
The world's clearest body bag.
Micronaps occur when the brain shuts off to sleep for small instances and is fluttering between the dream world and reality, even though a person could be walking around. This produced some cool scenes, where the characters would literally be transformed in and out of dreams between seconds. The line between the world of dreams and reality is quite transient. Some didn’t like this, but I personally found the film much more interesting when the micronaps started occurring. Granted, all of the scares and all of the dreams still could have been executed more effectively and more frighteningly. The bizarre dream logic is missing. Freddy merely shows up and starts slashing. They are grounded in realism a bit too much for my taste. I’m not asking for Freddy to morph into a giant worm and start munching on teenagers, but a dark rendition of common nightmare phenomena would have been appreciated.
At least her hair always looks good.
My greatest complaint is simply how boring the film is. I wasn’t the least bit engaged until over half way into the movie. In part, it’s because the characters are dull and uninteresting. Everyone is walking around sleep-deprived, with sunken eyes and lethargic movements. It would have been nice to see these kids before they became insomniacs, because it makes for a lackluster film to have the entire cast ambling about like snails. The other issue is the boring set pieces. Everything that isn’t a dark attic or a bedroom is basically borrowed from the original film, so there’s nothing to pull us in. The jump scares are pathetically impotent. I think I saw people jump once, despite a god awful number of attempts to inspire mini-heart attacks in the audience.
1,2...Freddy's silhouette is comin' for you.
The only way I can really describe this movie is “blah.” Really, there is no better word for it. It’s not excruciatingly terrible, but it’s not fun, not scary, and not even funny. Freddy’s attempts at being scary are laughable, as he looks like a Ninja Turtle covered in pizza. And his voice? It sounds like someone hit the turbo bass. Thanks for the subtlety. His attempts at being comical feel forced and unfunny because 90% of the time they borrowed the line from other Nightmare films. And, what’s worse, is they often don’t make sense in the context of the film. It’s frustrating to watch as a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street, or even as a casual moviegoer because it brings nothing new to the plate, while putting you to sleep at the dinner table.
Want to know my thoughts on the other Nightmare films? Check out my retrospective here.