I’ve just finished watching Platinum Dunes re-make , or “re-imagining” of Wes Craven’s classic, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street.’ The original is in my opinion one of the best horror films of our times, and so I did not give up my credibility or morals to bring you this review. Platinum Dunes made no money whatsoever from my viewing of the re-make, and that is all I’ll say on the matter. I am going to stay neutral in my review of the film however as I don’t want to come across as bias.
So, to the film itself; I’ve read numerous reviews slating it, and heard from people who were going to give the movie a chance, saying how let down they were by the film. The film was released by Michael Bay’s horror copy company ‘Platinum Dunes’ who know a lot about step for step re-makes of a lower standard; they churned out recent re-makes such as ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘The Hitcher’ to name a few. It doesn’t matter who’s directing the Dunes re-makes though, as they all look and feel the same with their gritty use of film, sexy stars and zero idea of how to achieve solid and original horror. The re-make has proved to be a lucrative business in Hollywood, though it offers no artistic integrity whatsoever; a handful have surpassed the originals but this is definitely not one of them.
I was let down by the film for many reasons. A huge section of the film’s storyline is the same as the originals, so how could they get it so wrong? They didn’t need to write the story, Craven did that for them. They didn’t even need to provide many of the dream sequences or dialogue, again, Craven provided. Or rather, they stole; literally in this case as Craven asked for his film not to be re-made. The film is so similar to the original in saga though, it’s impossible not to compare and ultimately decide that the original is a far superior film in every way. Even though the films are similar they are also completely different; where the original creates a dream-like, horror masterpiece which tells of an innocent group of friends and the strength of a young woman -this re-make doesn't.
Where to start? The film has several huge problems. The most important one is the script, which is abysmal; it has so many plot-holes and makes absolutely no sense. Freddy, now a paedophile comes back in five teenagers’ nightmares to make them remember that he was in fact not a paedophile – but actually he was. Krueger as a paedophile; It certainly doesn’t make the character more frightening, just a more uncomfortable one for audiences to watch. (It’s evident now why Craven decided to leave the idea on the drawing board for his original.) The teenagers, who were all aged five at the time, have no recollection of Freddy, a man they loved so much when he was alive and then who molested them so badly – they don’t even remember that they knew each other! Now I don’t know about you, but I remember a lot from my childhood and certainly at age five – to make out that all five teenagers (it’s actually more - a class full) would repress, or could forget being molested and knowing each other (especially when they are all friends) is completely ridiculous. It also rules out all reason for Krueger to possess the bladed glove. If he was a paedophile, a sexual predator; then why on Earth would he want a glove for murdering people? This is another plot hole which is completely overlooked by re-make revellers, Platinum Dunes.
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy is nothing special; he brings zero fresh ideas to the character; even using lines and physical movements from Robert Englund in previous movies. He’s not bad in his performance but isn’t on par with Englund’s as he doesn’t seem to relish in torment, and all of his scenes are second hand goods. His make-up effects are dreadful. The effect PD were going for was apparently “realistic burn victim” – he actually looks more alien and quite comical; as if he’s been caught squinting in a hurricane. He is shown far too much through the film and also has too many lines, taking away even more suspense and fear from the character.
In the original, Robert Englund had about four lines, and he was kept in the shadows. The make-up in 84 out does the new make-up by far, which is saying a lot considering the CGI the film would have had to its advantage. This is not from childhood fears of remembering the original, just the truth, as I find Englund’s Krueger quite creepy to watch even to this day.
For those gore fans, you’re going to be extremely disappointed; there is far, far more gore in the original film. The death scenes, when they come, are sudden and over with quickly. There’s no Freddy mocking his victims, no playing with their deepest psychological fears. Even the Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) rip off murder scene is edited, so that the character of Kris (Katie Cassidy) is simply batted around the bedroom like a baseball (literally) before having four slashes in her chest and dropping to the bed with hardly any blood shed. Nothing that a re-make could have taken advantage of is present; it lacks in every area. Why does the film have to be completely devoid of quality and imagination?
The film also relies heavily on the audience knowing the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise, as the re-make takes no time to develop any of the characters or their relationships with each other; or even the core storyline of dying from what happens in the nightmares and Krueger. The film flies by at such a speed of knots, leaving out things like this, as well as suspense or genuine scares. These are replaced by far too many jump scenes using loud music, which doesn’t scare the audience and grows tiresome. The film loses pace about midway and lulls to a dead stop before the lack lustre ending.
The young adults playing the teenagers aren’t bad; in fact, three of them are up to standard at least – Katie Cassidy as Kris (Tina), Thomas Dekker as Jesse, her boyfriend (Rod) and Kyle Gallner as Quentin (Glen.) It’s then such a shame that the main character all Nightmare fans will be looking out for; Nancy (Rooney Mara), is so abysmally poor in her performance. She gives nothing and delivers her lines as if reading them off the page, while possessing no charisma, which the character so direly needs to possess. Her relationship with her mother is completely undeveloped and is another loose end. A huge part of the original was Nancy’s relationship with her parents which came across as very real, and her own personal struggle and ultimate success for survival. This is all replaced with a story which goes off in every direction, leaving the viewer slightly frustrated and completely unvested in any of the characters survival or story. Nancy’s character also lacks the strength and determination shown in the original by Heather Langenkamp; the headstrong Nancy who relied on no-one but herself is now replaced by a geeky girl who needs the support of her boyfriend continuously. In one scene she screams, “I need Quentin!” Hardly the face-facts strong female we were shown twenty years ago who could handle the situation alone; another example of strong females in horror moving backwards instead of continuing forward.....