It was just a matter of time before Hollywood got around to remaking Wes Craven’s classic 1984 slasher. Many of the other slasher icons were getting the remake/reboot treatment, why not Freddy? We already had new takes on Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers making Freddy Krueger the last of the big three to have its franchise renewed on the big screen (and we still wait, sort of, on Pinhead’s return). When the new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street arrived earlier this year it was greeted warmly at first but drew the ire of many hardcore fans and exemplifies the problem with making a remake these days.
I am sure you are all familiar with the pitfalls of remaking a movie with a dedicated fan base. It is impossible to please everybody. I was always amused by how people complain of nothing original and upon hearing of a remake look forward to something new being brought to the table while complaining afterwards about how it wasn’t the same as the original. Which way do you want it? I like a mix of faithfulness to the source with a healthy injection of newer creativity. I am not against a little rewriting so long as it makes sense.
So far as this new A Nightmare on Elm Street is concerned, it is no creative masterpiece but it does add enough to the story to make it worthwhile and hold its own next to the original while not coming close to surpassing it. In short, while I enjoyed this film, when I want to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street, I found it is no replacement for the original.
Everyone should already be familiar with the story, but in a nutshell nut job when he was alive Freddy Krueger is hunted down and killed by the parents of the children on Elm Street. Years later Freddy returns in the nightmares of the now teenagers intent on having his revenge. Of course, the kids are unaware of their parents deed and must figure out what is going on before it is too late. You can simplify it further to the news story that inspired Craven’s original: you fall asleep and don’t wake up.
This version was directed by Samuel Bayer and written by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer. It does not have the wit or fun of the original, but there is still something about this one that hits home. It is certainly slicker and has more polish, but that is to be expected from the Michael Bay backed Platinum Dunes release. While it did get a new sheen, it has lost some of the heart, and I found I did not care as much about these teens as I did in the earlier movies.
One of the elements I like in this film is the writing. I like how they reworked Freddy’s back story. It works well and makes a bit more sense the earlier one. It also makes the Freddy/children connection a little more disturbing. I also like how they briefly (perhaps too briefly in my estimation) bring up the possibility that Freddy Krueger was innocent. It is an interesting concept that I would have liked to have seen expanded upon.
Another plus for the movie is Jackie Early Haley as Freddy Krueger. While it is true that no one will match what Robert Englund achieved in the franchise, it cannot be ignored that Haley does bring something interesting to the role. He has a slight dark humor about him, an frightening appearance under the newly designed make up, and he brings a new set of tics to the role. I like his line delivery; it has a creepy feel to it. I also love what he does with the glove; he rubs the knives together, and has a twitchiness all his own.
Audio/Video. The movie is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio and generally looks pretty good. It has a nice level of detail that lets you get a good look at the Krueger makeup and good definition in iconic ares such as Freddy’s boiler room. However, as good as the detail levels are, the overall image is a little to the soft side and the images never really pop off the screen as I would expect from a recent Hollywood release.
Audio is presented in DTS 5.1 HD and makes the movie sound better than it looks. It has a nice full soundstage, the score is presented well providing a nice eerie atmosphere. Dialogue is given up front and center with an added punch for Freddy’s lines. The overall sound design is very nice with moments of creaking wood, breaking boards, and that spine-tingling metal on metal scraping.
- Freddy Krueger Reborn. This is interesting, although I do not agree with their assertion that Freddy does not have much of a mythology behind him. It sort of makes me wonder how closely they’ve watched the series.
- WB Maniacal Movie Mode. This mode offers Picture-in-Picture elements, which go into detail about a variety of things while never having to leave the movie. I like this.
- Focus Points. These are brief looks at elements like make up, concepts like micronaps, and practical effects. These can be watched individually or accessed from Maniacal Movie Mode.
- Additional Footage. Three scenes are included. First is an alternate opening with a burned man in the hospital (I like the beginning they used better). Second is called Nightmare Street, this is a brief clip that comes after Quentin and Nancy have the car accident, I kind of like the design of this clip. Lastly is an alternate ending, this features Freddy appearing sans burns and a rather disturbing use of the “I’m your boyfriend now.” line.
- A second disk comes with the set, which includes a DVD of the film as well as a digital copy of the movie for PC and portable devices.