Just thinking about this remake will wake me up in a cold sweat . . . . There was a bad feeling about this movie from the start and horror fans weren’t impressed. A remake/reimagining/redux/rehash of the very first Freddy Krueger movie starring someone other than Robert Englund as drop dead Fred brought to the screen by Platinum Dunes, nobody thought the signs were good.
Except me. I have enjoyed a lot of the remakes from Platinum Dunes and am not ashamed to say it. I thought The Amityville Horror was very entertaining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was fantastic and even Friday The 13th was okay compared to the mess it could have been.
The story for those who don’t know it: burned bad guy Freddy Krueger starts picking off the kids of Springfield while they sleep. Die in your dreams and you die in reality. It’s up to plucky young Nancy and her friends to figure out just how to stop him. If, indeed, he CAN be stopped. It’s a good concept, brilliantly realised the first time round by Wes Craven, and could have provided some mindless entertainment even if it wasn’t a satisfying remake. Or so I thought.
Then I saw the trailer and my heart sank. Jackie Earle Haley always had a tough job ahead of him in filling Robert Englund’s shoes but he doesn’t even come halfway close. It’s, frankly, embarrassing to see one of my favourite baddies “reimagined” as some melty-faced Toxic Avenger doll who speaks as if he’s recovering from a stroke. Oh dear, oh dear.
What of the other cast members, you may ask, and I asked myself that question too. NOBODY makes any impression here, the director (Samuel Bayer, hang your head in shame) may well have just used leftover animatics from Avatar to fill in the spaces. I was never a big fan of Heather Langenkamp but at least her portrayal of a Nancy who goes from relatively carefree to a girl fighting for survival was engaging and almost believable, despite her rather wooden acting. Rooney Mara (the new Nancy) just does nothing of note. I have already forgotten her face. As for everyone else involved (Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, etc), I couldn’t care less about any of them and all I saw was a passing flow of pretty young faces. *Yawn*
Clancy Brown was great, as usual, but only on screen for a total of about two minutes. And I will grudgingly admit that Haley was actually very good when appearing in the flashbacks (the best scenes in the whole movie, for my money) showing the parents dealing with Krueger once they catch up with him. That’s the plus points out the way.
Surprisingly bloodless, I was actually astonished when I remembered that this was an 18 certificate here in the UK. There is very little decent gore on display and that would be fine if there was actually any tension to make up for it but nope, none of that either. The strange, dreamy vibe from the original movie? Gone.
In slavishly following the guidelines on how to make a terrible, terrible remake the people behind this unnecessary horror have reminded us that advancements in technology don’t compensate for simple, effective scares that are well executed.
Three prime examples (Freddy looming out of a bedroom wall, a girl being slashed as she is thrown around her bedroom celiling and a claw rising out of some bathwater) all show that this film completely and utterly fails whenever it tries to replicate moments from the first movie. This fails on every conceivable level: no personality, a poor script, a succession of lame jump scares, no style, no gore, not even any gratuitous nudity (well, if all else fails . . . it can’t hurt). Hell, even the soundtrack isn’t as good.
I feel most sorry for people who may see this movie and remain unaware of the greatness of the original. It’s just saddening.