Remakes, you either love em or you hate em. They have their place, a way to drawn in a new class of viewer, granted a class that ignores the talent of the original work and thinks that the newer version is canon but still… a class of sorts. I for one am not always open minded about remakes, I have seen some classic re inventing of an old story, Halloween glowed with Rob’s treatment (until you watch the second one) and I am almost certain the Rodrigueze’s version of Predators but there have been more flops than not.
We are of course speaking here of the remake or as they put it “reimagining” of Nightmare on Elm Steet. I would imagine you could throw a stone and have trouble hitting anyone who has not heard of the original films, Anyone who knows the stories know that Cravens original creations have been done to death, with Freddy appearing in more than 11 movies some nailing it, some… well not. Consistently we have enjoyed at least, Robert Englunds iconic take on the sadistic and magical creation of Freddy Kruger, he first brought Kruger to our attention in 1984 busting onto the screen with tongues coming out of phones and wet dreams taking on a whole new vision. His trademark striped jumper and knife handed glove, cackle laugh and witty one liners, ripping the intestines out of dim witted sexually active teenagers, reaping his revenge for what was done to him. His boiler room reality fit with steam and fire matching his gruesome face and evil personality. So having said all that you may think that I am a little too in Englunds camp, but I was more than willing to give Jackie Earl a go, I enjoyed him in Watchmen and thought he could redefine Freddy and perhaps welcome a new audience to the fabled terror of Elm Street.
The film started well and set us up in the world of Springwood, the Main characters are your fairly standard kids, cool and good looking; doing well to scream on cue and look scared of Freddy and his world, the parents doing a slightly better job at that rare art of acting, the appearance of Carnivale’s resident psycho priest was a nice treat as the Principal.
My problem in this film sadly was that I had a huge problem with the lack of charisma and wit even personality that was displayed. Freddy’s biggest calling card; that which separates him from Jason, Michael and the others, witty one liners and creepy slick attitude. Jackie lost that in this film, they obviously were going for a darker, slicker more realistic film and I appreciate that, but what I don’t appreciate is how boring they made Freddy. The one liner’s were there but Jackie tried too hard to deliver them, forcing it out rather than simply allowing himself to develop a new type of Freddy, either he or the producers wanted him to try to emulate Englunds performance and that was what killed it. I am certain that he tried his best with what he had to work with; they should have offered him the chance to make it his own, much like they did with the new Halloween.
I admit I almost fell asleep twice and was really quite bored until the end sequences where we finally started to get some decent narrative and imagery, though even with that I wanted more from that. I would have enjoyed once again what Rob did with Halloween and open up Fred Krugers world, peer inside and come out slightly more disgusted. Sadly however I was not offered that chance, it was a film that skimmed the edges and dipped its toe in without actually diving forward and trying to do something different.
I went in with my eyes open and was prepared for the worst, luckily it was not the worst but it certainly was not the best. My hat is still off to Wes and Englund, perhaps one day we will have someone who can pull the Nightmares forward but certainly not these films.