Starring: Roony Mara, Katie Cassidy, Kyle Gallner, Jackie Earle Haley
Like it or hate it we live in the time of remakes and I begrudgingly accept that. Platinum Dunes has already given the remake/reboot treatment to several popular horror properties with mixed results. While most agree that Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s 2003 remake was a very good effort, the films since then have ranged from mediocre to crap.
While I will always have a big place in my heart for the original films I can usually find something positive from the remakes and even *gasp!* enjoy them from time to time. Gearing up for the release of Nightmare on Elm Street, I went back and re-watched all of the original films and came out wondering why I liked them so well. In fact I’d go so far to say the original really isn’t quite the “classic” I remembered it being. Even from the start Freddy was kind of the clown prince of horror and his shtick got pretty old by part 4 even though part 4 might be my favorite. By the time 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason hit screens Freddy had long ago lost any ability to scare audiences. So a reboot was really the only way to bring the franchise back from the dead.
With the new film Platinum Dunes has basically tried to put Freddy back to peg one and made him the filthy pedophile that the original films always implied he was but never had the guts to explore. The story is nothing new or original but then again it doesn’t need to be. Freddy is haunting kids in their dreams and taking them out one by one. Nancy, played here by Roony Mara, is still more or less the girl next door. The twist this time around seems to be that she’s also a little bit of an outcast and an artist with some goth peppered in. As Nancy’s friends get knocked off she and her boyfriend Quentin (Kyle Gallner) put together the pieces and figure out what they all have in common.
The new NOES is ok as far as remakes go. I give Platinum Dunes credit for taking the story of Freddy to the dark places I always thought it should have gone. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming about Freddy this time out and there are really no wisecracks to be found here. I understand that this movie isn’t made for me, its made for the kids of today and they will be the ones who decide if any of todays horror films ever become classics. Though I doubt this one will ever make the list. Like most modern horror movies NOES is filled with fast cuts, jump scares, and stunning visual style that is claustrophobic and oppressing.
What works? Jackie Early Haley as Freddy Krueger, plays the role with a darker tone for certain but there’s still a little bit of a “wink” there. Freddy never really cracks wise this time out but he’s still having fun with what he’s doing and Jackie takes on the role and wears the sweater and hat well. This is not the Freddy that Robert England played so well with evil glee, this Freddy is more brutal, less campy and plays into that modern media induced fear of the pedophile hiding behind every tree.
The actors Kyle Gallner and Roony Mara both deliver believable performances and do well with making themselves sympathetic to the audience. The kills are brutal and the gore is here for those who want it. However, the kills weren’t nearly as creative as they should be. Director Samual Bayer creates a dark and stylish atmosphere and some stunning visuals but bad CGI is creeping about every corner. Wisely this film avoids trying to do the tilting room scene from the original film but does keep some iconic shots such as the body bag in the school hallway and the ever classic glove in the bathtub.
What doesn’t work? The script for one. The story, while familiar takes some liberties with the legend that ultimately don’t work. Most notably is the concept that Freddy is a pedophile but its never said that he killed children. So when Nancy and Quentin break into Freddy’s secret hiding place inside the preschool they attended as children and find the bloody razor glove, it never makes sense. On top of that the first half of the movie does a lot of work to try to put doubt into the audience that Freddy actually did the things he was accused of. Honestly I think making it look like he was falsely accused would have been a very interesting angle to take and would have made his character more tragically sympathetic.
The CGI effects for the most part are really terrible. They try redoing the classic face coming out of the wall scene from the original film but it the cgi effect is laughably bad. So bad that it makes you wonder why it wasn’t scrapped. In fact almost all the bloody CGI effects looked obvious and fake which is unfortunate.
Let’s talk a moment about the director. Samual Bayer is a very visual commercial and video director and he made it very clear he did not want to do this movie. The platiunum dunes producers brag about how they had to spend so much time convincing this guy to make the movie and it shows. While the film looks good, I don’t get any impression that the people behind the camera had any passion for the story they were telling. The same issue happened before in the Freddy-verse with Jason Vs. Freddy where Ronny Yu refused and refused to make the movie until he was finally convinced and that movie suffers similar issues as this one. So my plea to studios is this: Stop trying to force people with no passion for the property to make these movies!
Final Thought: 7/10/14
I think this film is worth seeing if for no other reason than some of the visuals are great. It doesn’t look like a direct sequel will ever be made to this film so I guess we’ll be getting a new reboot in a few years. Lets hope they actually put together a team of people who want to make that one.
4 out of 10