Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: A Nightmare on Elm St (2010)

2010, Samuel Bayer -- download

In the last few years, amidst the spate of remake-reboot-everything, a few of the most popular franchises from my childhood have been resurrected.  Halloween done by Rob Zombie was a decent film not only catching the notes of the original but adding some additional background elements.  It was definitely a labor of love on Rob's part.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre played the same tune, remaking for the most part but adding more explanation.  I have not seen the new Friday the 13th.  But why?  Why not new horror material instead of all these reboots?  The reason most of these had such an impact was because they were fresh and new for their time. That doesn't always work as a premise to do a movie now, anymore than you showing your favourite 80s movie to a teenager of today works -- the audience will not be in the same mindset as you were.  They won't get it.

Now, I applaud that the makers of this movie wanted a darker tone.  Freddie Kreuger has become far too much the Saturday Night Live skit version of himself.  He is the joke that he tells his victims in the movies.  Jackie Earle Haley was a brilliant choice as the new Kreuger, a creepy actor (no disrespect meant) capable of sinister dialogue and a dark nature.  They also decided to return to Freddy actually abusing the kids, as opposed to just killing them.  In today's age of murder spree and serial killers on TV every week, a spree killer of kids is just not that horrifying but child abuse still rings a horror bell.  So, they had the basis of a decent reboot.  So what went wrong?

The movie ends up being very by the book, which is disappointing.  It just lacks any of the actual creepiness of the originals, despite a lower comedic quip factor.  It also seemed to be missing something that I did not actually look for in the original.  A why?  Why did Freddy come back as a vengeful spirit?  Normally, following the rules of vengeful spirits, he would have had to have been wronged.  But really, he was just foiled.  Haley's Kreuger just seemed pathetic as the man, without the psychic fortitude to return as a dream controlling evil spirit. They make him very much the evil man, which lifts us one layer above the unexplained boogey man he was in the original. That movie drew upon the urban myth concept of evil men becoming monsters even after they are destroyed.  This one had him just becoming... because.  But even with that ignored, the rest of the story and plot around it was just very very straight forward.  I doubt we have a rebooted franchise here.