Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Dirty Hands

Michael Bay has probably developed a strange fetish for wanting to recreate, reimagine or just plain want to remake every classic horror film out there, taking its icons and trying to craft something new and just as enduring. From the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Friday the 13th's Jason, he now turns his gunsights to Wes Craven's A Nightmare of Elm Street with the irrepressible Freddy Krueger, played to perfection and stereotyping Robert Englund in what would be the role he's best remembered for, with that disfigured face, hat, claw-like gloves and a wicked (pardon the pun) sense of humour, being the ghoul that haunts one's dreams, living in another parallel where he's lord and king over the sleeper.

Director Samuel Bayer's version begins his series in the thick of the action in a diner, where we see a young chap Dean (Kellan Lutz) being sleep deprived for three days before finally succumbing to Freddy's dominance in his dreamworld. One by one a group of teens fall into their slumber and to their deaths, and it's up to Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) to figure out how the sins of their parents, and of their repressed memories of their childhood, all play a part in the recent gory deaths of their high school friends.

Which will leave the fan wondering, just exactly what sort of reimagination goes on here. There's really nothing new to add to the established mythos, and there's actually little point in trying to revive a film whose icon has spawned countless of films to varying degrees of success. Moreover, compared to Robert Englund's turn, Jackie Earle Haley seemed to be rehashing an amalgam of his previous roles from Little Children and Shutter Island, and unfortunately, his makeup and wardrobe as Freddy projected less of a real menace than it should. As an origin film we cannot stray away from the retelling of how Freddy came about, but stopped short of how it took so long before managing to exact revenge, probably it really takes that long for mastery of the dreamworld complete with snazzy looking special effects.

But of course I'm not dissing Haley's performance because there's really only so much he can do with such a weak story, though his Krueger seemed to have lost his sense of humour until late in the show. Other than that, his iconic character suffered less drastic changes than say, other Hollywood needless remakes such as Clash of the Titans. Gore is kept to a minimum, with the body count for a horror film surprisingly kept very low. Bayer also didn't break any new ground in the generation of scares, dipping his hand into tried and tested, though cliché and unimaginative techniques of sudden turns and loud music to try to make you jump in your seat, until it becomes really boring as every upcoming scare got preempted by its impatient musical bars that come on too early.

One thing's for sure, the sequel for this rebirth has already been greenlit and set in motion, and going by the way this film ended there's no prize for guessing just who else is next on Freddy Krueger's hit list. I still bear the slightest hope that films should not be remade just for the sake of, especially when they don't offer anything new nor innovative, and come across as just another bagful of rehashed elements that don't add value to the mythos. Now that's the real nightmare for an audience in watching something on repeat with deja vu elements being touted as something unique.

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