Does anybody remember when Movies were ART?
Watching the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, way back when, as well as today, I appreciate the low-budget, yet innovative and well-imagined supernatural slasher flick from the mind of Wes Craven. By no means was this film perfect, but it was more than a little unique for its day and was instrumental in putting the now-huge New Line Cinema on the proverbial movie map!
Looking at this Splatinum Prunes reimagined A Nightmare on Elm Street, I pictured writers Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer sitting on a money-stuffed couch like an overpaid Beavis and Butt-Head watching the original flick and snickering the entire time.
I see them saying things like "Yeah, heh-heh-heh-heh! We're remaking Nightmare on Elm Street heh-heh-heh-heh! This is cool!"
"Yeah, Yeah! Look at that part! The claw just came out of a naked chick's bathtub, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"No WAY! And I missed it? Let's put that part in, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"Heh-heh-heh-heh! Yeah, and that guy's on fire! Fire's cool heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"Totally, we're putting THAT part in! And the naked chick in the red bag, too, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"Yeah, she's cool! We need to get that guy from the Watch-Mints movie to play this Freddy Flintstone guy! He's COOL, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"Yeah, and they totally have the same hat, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"No I think his name was... heh-heh-heh-heh... War-Shack or something, heh-heh-heh-heh!"
"Oh, yeah, heh-heh-heh-heh! That guy's COOL!"
"Totally, and he's on fire again, heh-heh-heh-heh! Fire's Cool!"
Lucky for us they can apparently spell.
Not a whole lot of the original film that survives in the remake except for a few varied elements that the writers (and probably chief douche Bay) thought were really, really COOL and would therefore get teenagers to fork over their lunch money for movie tickets and then tell their friends the next day that "Freddy's Awesome!"
Yeah, there's nothing like making a child molester cool for the movie going public. And in the reimagined continuity, that's exactly what Freddy Krueger is. Abandoning the child murderer aspect, for now, this new Freddy is a sicko handy man at a preschool called "Badham" who uses his position of access to take little kids into his basement dungeon for some things better left unsaid. Bad Ham, huh? I wonder if that's why they got Jackie Earle Haley to play this part... But, no, I kid Jackie Earle. While his portrayal isn't nearly as good as old Robert Barton Englund's was in the original (at least the Original original), he's not really the problem in this movie. He does his best, but most often sounds more like Rorschach in need of some Chloraseptic than anything else.
Flash forward to the present when the kids of Springwood, Ohio are starting to have horrible nightmares about a hideous burn victim in a dirty brown fedora and a really bad Christmas sweater stalking and injuring them with his razor-tipped glove. When young Dean (Kellan Lutz) becomes the first victim the other "Elm Street Kids" start to realize that this boogey-man they're dreaming of is no group-delusion, but is actually real. Further, anything this heavily made-up freak does to them in their dreams really happens to them in real life, from a cut on the hand, to a burn to the Coup de Grace... Murder.
It isn't long before Dean's friend Kris (Katie Cassidy) is determined to track down the mystery man and stay alive in the process, hopefully with the help of her friend (and Ex-) Jesse (Thomas Dekker). Meanwhile, their mutual friend Nancy (Rooney Mara) is already a believer and is starting to see more and more of the pattern of this Freddy Krueger guy just as her new partner and hanger-on Quentin (Kyle Gallner) is just glad to be seeing more of Nancy.
The real question is just what in their dreams is Freddy showing them (before he kills them), just what happened with that Bad Ham at Badham Preschool and just what do their parents (played by the likes of Connie Britton, Lia D. Mortensen, Christian Stolte and even Clancy Brown) know about all of this... and what might they be hiding.
Well, anybody who has seen most of the movies or even the first episode of the TV Show Freddy's Nightmares knows the answer to that one and just why Freddy's grim visage is now all burned up like a Florida Tourist without Sunscreen. Yes, it's the same story here, but that's just about the only thing that IS the same story. In places this is actually a good thing and I was actually interested to see that some of the differences and new additions actually worked, almost in spite of themselves. In places I liked the film more than I expected to.
However, on the whole the story takes a BIG nosedive and never quite manages to blend all its divergent pieces together. The over explanation in the script and the over exposition that hand-picked commercial director Samuel Bayer gives us points to, or even demands that the script make sense in more spots. If plot points A and C are over explained and over exposed, plot point B had better not be forgotten, as it connects the dots, baby!
And that's the problem with A Nightmare on Elm Street and, in fact, most of these Platinum Dunes reimaginings... they're not all that WELL re-imagined. Oh, there might be a tiny stab at a really good idea here and there, but there are hardly any ligaments connecting the bare bones that make up their plotlines. Because each vague point is a peak in a valley of shock, startles and logic lapses, the entire movie has little more going for it than a Music Video. Kids can come out of the theatre saying "Hey, remember that part where..." and they can talk about each flash of "Cool", but there is no real substance underlying these largely bombastic noteworthy parts. Further, while Bayer is to be given a tiny bit of credit for building some occasional suspense, the real trick here isn't actual horror but startles and jump-at-you shocks. That's not scary, folks, that's just startling. You might as well have someone run up behind you, clap their hands and yell "BOO! Did I scare you?"
And if you're so inclined, take a sip of that Coke with Extra Ice and be my guest!
Much has been made of the newly revamped Freddy makeup that the 15 members of the makeup department slathered all over Jackie Earle Haley to make him look more like a realistic burn victim. While the look is acceptable, it's not much like Freddy. Sure it's a Freddy for a new generation, I get the intent, but the additional CGI and the bland, near-expressionless look that comes up makes Freddy look either like a Bengal Cat in the eyeballs or someone whose face just fell into the porridge and there's no washcloth is sight. I less wanted to recommend a dermatologist for the guy than I wanted to suggest a few spa treatments and a hot tub dip. This and the redone origin that makes Freddy look like even more of a normal dude than flashback Freddy did in Freddy's Dead tend to make old Creepy Kruger into less of a demonic madman of the dreamscape and more of someone you just wouldn't want to sit at the same table with.
It's like, "Hey, do you mind if my cousin Freddy comes out with us tonight? He's had a rough time and he could really use a night off."
Well, to be fair, I'm sure Beavis and Butt-Head would let him sit on the couch with them. "Yeah! Freddy's COOL!"
All that and not even any nudity. That lame-ass Friday the 13th reimagining at least had some gratuities to it. Then again, that flick wasn't about a (shudder-shudder) child molester. Ick! There are JUST enough good parts of this overall flat and lame-ass movie to award it a very generous Two and One Half Stars out of Five... somehow! Freddy may not be the man of your dreams anymore, and with Platinum Dunes "doing their business" all over every horror franchise that hasn't been flushed already, you can be sure that Michael Bay won't be your dream-vision either. This is just another case of movies as product with Art being an accident if it ever happens. The characters are ready-made, the plot largely complete and all it takes is an investment and a whole bunch of screens to show this "product" on and people like Bay just keep getting richer and richer and richer. Knowing that the independents who created these original originals used their brains and imaginations to create something new (unless you count The Last House on the Left, a rip off itself), the Platinum Dunes Stooges have the best and easiest jobs in the world! Well, except for lazy-ass, silly-butt, leeching internet film critics! Those guys!
Heh-heh-heh-heh, See you in the Next Reel!
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Written by an absolute DREAMBOAT (with good skin)!
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