Wednesday, 19 May 2010

69: Review - A Nightmare on Elm Street

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

(2010, 102mins, Dir. Samuel Bayer)

An odd one this. I heard a while back that it was being re-made and put that info straight to the back of my mind. I saw the poster in the cinema a couple of weeks ago and the info re-surfaced, but didn't really excite me. I watched the movies when I was younger, and even then the law of diminishing returns was obvious as they quickly descended into pantomime territory.

For a while, I had the feeling (like many people do), that the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie was actually pretty good and was let down by too many sequels and spin-offs. About 10 years ago I saw a VHS of the original in a second-hand video store, bought it with a sense of curious nostalgia and watched it that night with a couple of mates and some beer. I haven't watched it since. The tape was soon re-donated to the second-hand market. The original A Nightmare On Elm Street was pretty shit. Sorry, guys.

It was with the same sense of curious nostalgia that I went to see the new A Nightmare On Elm Street. Let's cut straight to the chase: It's no better or worse than the original: and that's not a compliment.

Quick synopsis: Freddy Krueger was a mild-mannered paedo who was burned to death by a bunch of vigilante parents about 15 years earlier. For some (unexplained in the first movie*) reason, he haunts teenager’s dreams with a big knife-glove, and when he kills them in dream-land, they die for real. A bunch of kids work this out and get shit-scared as they’re picked off one by one.

On the bright side, Freddy Krueger's being played by Jackie Earl Hayley, who put on excellent turns as 'un-hinged' in Watchmen and Shutter Island. If anything, I expected him to positively shine in this, and be the only redeeming feature of the movie. Unfortunately, he's completely wasted here. His performance is restrained by the character we already know he is, and the writing team didn't put in any new elements for him to play with. Actually, that's not strictly true. Freddy 2.0 is a paedophile rather than a flat-out child-murderer, which puts an interesting moral slant on Springwood’s parent-collective burning him alive in a boiler room**. But that aside, Krueger is just... Krueger. The new make-up job might look slightly more realistic of his deformities, but unfortunately it means that Jackie Earl Hayley can't pull any facial expressions. The result of this is that the 'horror' aspect is essentially that he's a burns-victim who can only express himself through the poorly written dialogue you'd expect. In the first half of the film, his lines are kept to a minimum, making him a more threatening presence. But by the climax of the movie, when he chases Nancy through a quagmire of blood, and he utters the line "Now that's what I call a wet dream!"... the only shock you'll get is your palm automatically slapping into your face. Thankfully, these moments aren't as prevalent as in the other movies, but hey - this is only the first of the reboot, right?

The visual effects are up to scratch. Precisely what you'd expect, but well enough done. This might prove to be the movie's only saving grace. Rather than subject today's kids to a movie which clearly looks dated, horror afficionados can introduce a new generation to a good-looking movie, where only the concept, subject-matter and execution have been done-to-death more than Freddy's victims. Speaking of which, the supporting cast are generally pretty good. But again, you know exactly what they’re there to do, so if they run/scream/look-shocked-at-their-own-innards in the right places, everybody’s happy.

Ultimately, this re-boot brings absolutely nothing new to the mythos. It's a movie for the sake of having a movie (although not the first one that's been made for that reason, I know). It's not even like the original is old enough to be forgotten about or considered 'tame'. I even remembered who was going to survive, so that particular avenue of suspense was closed off as well. If you remember A Nightmare On Elm Street, you don't have to bother seeing this. Seriously.

There'll be sequels of course (it's what the franchise was built on), but I can still remember how shit they were, so I won't be there for them.

I reckon: 4/10
Summary: Pointless.
Should I have known better? Yes.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

* to be honest, by the time the concept was explained in the original sequels, it was so bollocks that no-one really questioned it.

** because it somehow seemed more justified when he was a killer? I dunno. To me, it conjours up images of News Of The World readers, beating down someone’s door, flaming-torches in hand. It might have been more of a plot twist had Freddy been an innocent loner, but no, he really was a bastard.

1 comment:

  1. "Time Out" really should snap you up!