Those of you who know me (which, presumably, is anyone reading this right now) will know that I am lukewarm on horror films. When I saw The Ring (2002) in college, I couldn’t really sleep for three nights, and even afterward I was haunted by a parade of disturbing imagery, this being a really tame example. As such, I pretty much stayed away from horror movies for a long time.
Enter my wife who, in an excellent example of situational irony, had the same reaction to The Ring, but the exact opposite response: she loves horror films, always did, and loves watching them with me. As part of her birthday party, we were supposed to go see A Nightmare on Elm Street, but spurred by an overwhelming majority of hockey lovers (including my wife), we ended up watching the Blackhawks get destroyed by Vancouver in the first game of that series (I think we know how that turned out). But enough back story.
So here we go, two weeks later, in theaters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, a movie that this is to be the film series opener, redux and refreshed (i.e. with cell phones and the internet), in the vein of recent remakes of Halloween, James Bond, Batman, The Karate Kid, etc. etc. etc.
I understand the theory behind a remake, in that it updates the movie for a new generation of ticket buyers, er, I mean, “movie goers.” For those of us old enough to have watched the original, or rented the VHS of the original from the now dead local film rental store, the danger is that there will not be enough new material to interest a repeat viewer. If you have seen the remakes of The Omen, or The Manchurian Candidate, or really any recent remake, you know what I mean.
The other danger that series-opener remakes must contend with is the pointless repetition of elements which are smartly condensed or re-purposed in sequels to the original.
There are a few basic premises behind every NMoES movie: 1) The Threat: A pedophile is burned to death by angry townsfolk and returns to take his revenge on the children where the parents can’t protect them…IN THEIR DREAMS, HA HA AHAHAH; 2) Despite said threat, no adult believes it when it actually happens; 3) Everyone in town is hiding the pedophile BBQ from the children, hoping (paradoxically) that somehow collectively repressing their memories will be better than the children connecting the dots and figuring out some way to deal with the problem, cause children are helpless, and adults know best, so go to your goddamn room, hmph. The solution: somehow get Freddy into our world where his powers are limited, then dispose of him in the goriest way possible.
Not only do we get the agonizing repetition of these concepts, slowly developed over the film’s first hour plus, but also the overacted revelation scenes by the actors portraying female art-student-working-as-a-waitress teen and macho-yet-senstative-Joy Division-T-shirt-wearing-love-interest male teen (actor names not worth mentioning).
Unlike The Ring, this movie has nothing in the way of disturbing imagery, and uses every cliche jump scene that you’ve been watching parodied for the last decade (looking away from a mirror…then back, looking through a parted closet shutter slat/window blind…then having the killer right beside you!). Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley), now a huge hard ass take-no-prisoners type, has been robbed of the smarmyness and camp coined by Robert Englund in his performances, and is forgettable.
To boot, as my wife pointed out on the car ride home, much of the plot for this movie and even several lines (“Welcome to my world, Bitch”) are stolen directly from Freddy vs. Jason (2003), which I have to say was a far better movie.
Had I known the dreaded Bay was involved prior to the opening credits, I may have steered clear all together, but I watched it, and committed to starting my reviews yesterday, so I must reluctantly rate my first summer movie:
2/10 (worse than a broken toe)
Follow up: “I’m glad someone finally chopped his hand off…that’s all you really need to do” -my wife
Up Next: Shattered Glass starring that whiny dude from Star Wars eps. Two and Three.