Wednesday, 5 May 2010
A Nightmare on Elm Street - Review
Let it be known I normally detest horror films. Possibly because nothing really shocks me any more and their plots are usually stretched thinner than my malingering bank accounts, but nevertheless there comes a time when one must attend the local picture house for a subtle mash up of blood, gore and an appreciable amount of scantily clad women, going into rooms they really should know better not to enter.
After laying dormant since 2003's hilariously bad Freddy Vs Jason, Hollywood super-villain/producer Michael Bay, in association with director Samuel Bayer, thought it was time to resurrect the spirit of Freddy Kruger for a much anticipated, yet not entirely needed, remake of the infamous 80s slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Following relatively close to the original plot, albeit it with a few modern day updates, Freddy Kruger (Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley) stalks the dreams of Nancy and her friends as they discover they all share a common link from their childhood; they were all physically and sexually abused by Freddy before he was murdered by their vengeful parents. Now a supernatural force in their dreams, Freddy plans to kill off the children that alerted the parents about his deeds.
Maybe this is my age showing but I vividly remember being about six or seven watching the first Nightmare on Elm Street and I won't lie, I was unable to sleep for days afterwards, rare does films of this nature have that effect on me any more and maybe there was a part of me wanting to watch this remake and rediscover the thrill of being that scared once again, but alas it was not meant to be.
Jackie Earle Haley - succeeding Robert Englund - did a tremendous job of taking Kruger back to his more sinister roots as a psychological terrorist of dreams however, the director chooses to cheapen his appearances, to nothing more than primarily a lot of jumpy flashes from nowhere. Some might argue that's the whole point of Freddy Kruger, and they wouldn't be wrong but the film worked better in the quieter scenes when Kruger is stalking his prey to the point of madness, exchanging retorts and attempting to understand the sick and twisted man in the stripy jumper.
Choice scenes were the genuinely deleterious flashbacks of Kruger before he falls victim to the blazes of hell, playing 'innocently' with the children he chose to stalk later in life. Though I believe the writers overlooked the lack of logic - unlike the original strangely - involved in the parent's actions once they found out Kruger's true nature.
The rest of the cast ... well what can I say? They were young, stupid, good-looking and screamed a lot. I barely remember their character's names so there's probably zero chance I'm going to remember them as creditable actors. They did the job required and that's about that, it was hardly Shakespeare after all.
On a superficial level, the film conjured memories of 2003's Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake - coincidentally also produced by Michael Bay - very rich in colour and almost as vain in its presentation as its producer, once again falling into the 'If film's were MTV music videos...' category. The scenery might work superbly in the likes of an old school KoRn or Slipknot video but seems to take away from the gritty fright-fest that surely was intended.
Strangely one of the highlights of the film was the, beautifully chilling, score by Steve Jablonsky (Transformers) which made an ill-fated attempt to enhance the predictable and cumbersome experience but unfortunately one cannot live on film scores alone.
Jackie Earle Haley's excellent portrayal brings the nightmare of Freddy Kruger to a whole new generation, unfortunately Samuel Bayer is unable to take advantage of a potentially fascinating character study, instead falling into the same old, tired, routines which made film audiences fed up watching A Nightmare on Elm Street to begin with. It has the odd tense moment but I doubt I'll have much trouble going to sleep tonight...
See This If You Like...
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 7th May 2010.