April 30, 2010
Courtesy of Warner Bros/New Line Cinema
It has been over 25 years, since Wes Craven brought his demented vision of dreams to the silver screen and introduced a character that would become a legend amongst moviegoers. His name was Freddy Krueger and was always portrayed by renowned actor Robert Englund. After a string of seemingly endless sequels, most of which were beyond terrible, it seemed like Freddy might have died with recent sequel and lackluster, Freddy vs Jason. However, a mere two years ago, studio Platinum Dunes and producers Michael Bay and Brad Fuller announced their intentions to remake Nightmare. Platinum Dunes is best known for the onslaught of horror remakes, including; Friday the 13th, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Amityville Horror.
Of course, with the popular remake trend encompassing most of the studios' releases these days, it should have come as no shock that Freddy would have eventually found his way on the bandwagon. However, fans were most appalled to learn that Robert Englund was retiring his infamous Christmas sweater and the job would go to The Watchmen's Jackie Earle Haley. Although Englund gave up his role willingly, most enthusiasts still condemned the film straight to hell.While its true that no sequel or remake could quite match the charm of the original, some do come close.
The film starts directly into a nightmare and features a fellow named Dean, who already suffering from extreme insomnia from previous encounters of having bumped into the famed dream demon. One of the odd things about this opening scene is that audience is allowed to see Freddy within the first couple of minutes, thus completely taking the tension out of the equation. The rest of film follows the now standard plot of pitting a group of dopey kids against against Fred.
One these kids is Nancy, the main protagonist and only character taken from the original Nightmare, although some of the characters seem to be drawn from that film. For example, Kris seems to be based on Tina, while Quentin is much like Johnny Depp's character, Glen. The plot also is completely different from the original, while still containing a certain familiarity. The bathtub scene is back, alongside an updated version of the "dragged across the ceiling" scene with an awesome twist. These significant changes therefore classify the film as a reboot rather remake but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's great that the plot was altered and some of the characters changed, otherwise, paying to see it would be no different than renting the original.
Although, the plot changes were effective, they weren't sufficient and leaves the audience only wanting more. Sure, the story is rather fast-paced and does not leave much room for dilly-dallying, but nothing ever seems to happen. The plot involves something called "micronaps", which seemed like a good idea when revealed in the trailer, however the film cannot seem to expound much on that element. It is briefly mentioned and then shown maybe twice but nothing more is done with it.
Another aspect of the plot that seems to confound me is the fact these kids are willing to immediately accept the idea of supernatural forces being the cause of their issues. And this speculation begins almost at the beginning, thus giving them no real reason to suspect that Freddy is real, unless they happened to catch the original movie on late-night cable. Something that is really frustrating is the fact that these youngsters can seem to find out anything that they need to know to progress the story through a few clicks on the internet. Within minutes, Nancy and Quentin have been exerts on dream analysis and sleep disorders. Sure, the discovery of such facts are indeed crucial to the story, but the internet has become the wise old man of the movies.
Some positive things about Nightmare are the special effects, which are beautifully and digitally presented throughout the film. Freddy's body count is a little low in this installment, but that only increases the amount of gore in each kill. The deaths are quite rough and crude but oh so satisfying.
Other pleasing elements of the reboot are revolved solely around Freddy. Jackie Earle does a tremendous performance and while he does not necessarily outshine Englund, is still comparable in presentation. The laugh and voice is dead on, although at times, the dialogue is often difficult to hear. This issue could be due to a number of reasons from the sound editor to the volume at the theater. Whatever the case may be, that seems to be the only thing standing in the way of an otherwise impeccable act.
Nightmare may be entertaining and is certainly a great addition to the franchise, although it is not overly impressive. There have been previous sequels that were far more enjoyable, then again there are some that were far worse. Nightmare may do a great job with the deaths and reinventing Freddy, however, there should have been a stronger plot that embraced the supernatural qualities in more detail. It is moderately entertaining but still falls short of the expectations from a big budget reboot.
4 / 5 "Kills"