After the long wait, all the debate about remakes, and complaints about why Robert Englund didn’t play Freddy, “ A Nightmare on Elm Street” is here. All month long I have been saying, “Are you ready for some Freddy?” Some people were, while others were not because of the many issues that were brought up with doing a remake of this classic horror movie. Now you better be ready for a Freddy review.
Since this was a remake, I am going to keep the summary of the movie brief. A young girl, Nancy, and her friends are plagued with nightmares of a man in a red and green sweater, burnt face, and a razor sharp glove. They were unsure why he was after them, but needed to figure it out before they would fall asleep, and get an unwelcome taste of metal. Why was Freddy after them? You will just have to watch and see.
So now comes the million-dollar question: was it a bad idea to make a remake of our sacred “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie? While others said yes before even seeing the movie, I said no before seeing it, and I will stick with my answer of no. Before seeing the movie, I said no because, “the more horror the better.” It was up to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to change my mind, and it didn’t because it was a good movie. It stuck with the general storyline, but it had plenty of new ideas, and interpretations. Right from the opening scene, you could see the difference. It opened with a nightmare of a new character, and a nightmare we did not see in the original. As mentioned before, Freddy was out to scare you, not just stroll into the picture. There were other nightmares we had not seen before, and there seemed to be a whole lot of them. There were a few scenes that I did not care for, and actually thought they were forced. Two in particular were the famous scenes where Freddy comes through the wall above Nancy, and when Nancy was in the bathtub. For some reason, they did not seem to naturally fit with the way the story was unfolding. It was almost like they felt they needed to include those scenes as a reminder of the original.
Going into this movie, I heard a lot of complaints and worries about Freddy’s voice, so I paid special attention to it. After hearing the voice throughout the movie, I could see where people were coming from. It did take some time getting use to. Actually, early on, there were a few times where I wasn’t sure exactly what he said. I am not sure if they did this or not, but it almost seemed as if they had used a voice over in some scenes.
I think the real problem here is not the voice, but that people want to compare Robert Englund as Freddy to Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy. Yes, Robert’s voice was clearer. Yes, Jackie looked different as Freddy. You know what, he was a different Freddy. People can’t expect him to be the same. He had a different voice, and they made his face extra crispy. Jackie is a different actor, so Freddy is naturally going to look different. It didn’t help that they seemed to want to hide Freddy’s face throughout the beginning of the movie. At first you don’t really see a clear shot of his face, then later they seem to constantly blur the background behind his face. It wasn’t until maybe mid-way through the movie that you get a good look at Freddy. I think a better approach would have been to just come out, and show his face at the beginning to get it over with. That way, as the movie goes on, you could really get used to this new Freddy.
After thinking more about this, the character “Freddy” is in a unique position when compared to other horror icons such as, Jason, Michael, and even Leatherface. With Freddy, yes his face was burnt, but he still has to take on some characteristics of the actor. The same goes for the actor’s voice. So naturally, people are going to complain about why Freddy doesn’t look the same, sound the same, or just complain about the actor in general. You just don’t get that with any of the other remakes of the aforementioned characters. All of them wear masks, and none of them speak, so who really cares about who the actor was in the original, and who was the actor in the remake. Now if you want to complain about the changes they made to Freddy as a character, then that is fine.
Another thing I heard was that this movie was going to be more brutal. It would bring the true killer in Freddy out, and away from some of the fun and games he had in some of the later sequels. Well, I would have to say it did a great job of bringing us back to a brutal Freddy. He definitely made good use of his glove with a great deal of slashing, and stabbing. Yea, he did throw in some of the typical Freddy one-liners before getting down to business, but he was not going to show any mercy. It might have been nice to see at least a little fun and games, but I don’t think it would have fit with the direction they were taking Freddy.
And what direction might that be? Well, I think they really went all out in trying to make you hate Freddy. Not only with his brutality, but this time he was a child molester. In the original, they stuck with murderer, but this movie took the risk, and dared to make Freddy a molester. Neither is good, and I am not here to get into a debate about which is worse, but I have a feeling that this may rub some people the wrong way. He came on strong, and really displayed that he liked children. It doesn’t help that you see a whole lot of kids throughout the movie. There was one nightmare where Freddy was sitting down at a table with a bunch of children at school as if he was telling them a story. It kind of gave me the creeps. He had some pretty dirt things to say to Nancy in reference to when she was a 5-year-old, even had her in his favorite schoolgirl dress. They say sometimes making a good villain is making the audience hate him. Well, I think it is safe to say you can check that off.
In the original, you kind of knew Freddy was coming because he would be laughing, and scratching his glove against metal pipes. Here too, they decided to go in a different direction. Yea, you knew the character was in a nightmare, and Freddy would be coming, but they went all out in having Freddy pop up, and scare you in the process. In the opening scene, Freddy must have popped up three times. This continues throughout the movie, which probably annoyed some people. For me, it kind of replaced some of the fun and games that Freddy played with the characters, and didn’t bother me.
Something that I always look for in these remakes of horror icons is back-story. I want to learn something new about the character. I want more of the blanks filled in about their past. I was expecting some back-story at the beginning, and was a little disappointed I did not get any. We had to wait until later before we really start to learn about Freddy. Instead of learning about Freddy from Nancy’s mom, as it was in the original, Freddy was the one telling the story. He was putting the ideas in their minds, and pretty much told most of his story in one of the nightmares that Quentin had. We actually got to see Freddy running from the enraged parents, and then get burned alive. With the way they were telling the story, we got to see why Nancy was so important to him. I guess it did explain a lot about how Freddy got to be “Freddy,” but I am not sure it added anything to the original Freddy since they took part of the story in a new direction.
I am guessing some people will take the opportunity to just complain about the movie to justify why the remake never should have been done. What you have to remember sometimes is that the movie is being made for a new generation of fans, not just us horror buffs. They have to include new ideas, while maintaining some of the things that made the original so great. It may not be as easy as it seems to keep those things in balance. Yes, they missed out on some things, and could have done a better job in some areas, but I don’t think they disgraced the franchise. I will guess that you will hear the younger generation say they liked the movie, while more horror buffs say they hate it. I think if you went into the movie with an open mind, you will come out at least satisfied with some aspects of what they did here. I’m sorry but I can’t side with my fellow horror buffs here. I will continue my bias towards Freddy, and give this movie 4.5 pools of blood.