The first thing I should mention is that since my ability to predict film endings has gotten downright uncanny, I do make it a point not to "keep tabs" on films in production that I'd be interested in seeing. That being said, if I hit on any plot points that were basically abandoned during production and leaked to the public, apologies in advance.
The second thing I should mention before beginning my review on this remake is that I will be throwing out my general rule about not giving away anything that would ruin a film for anyone. So a BIG, BIG SUPER SPOILER ALERT is going out for this rant session. (Yes, I'm also breaking that etiquette rule of mine about "yelling" on the internet too.)
I did have hope for this remake during the first 40 minutes or so. I thought perhaps they would do something very different from the wise-cracking Freddy that I knew and loved as a kid. All I knew about the film before walking into the cinema house was that the makeup looked more realistic and the film was supposed to be much darker and serious than the standard-issue Elm Street franchise.
SPOILER #1 - Freddy's Glove and New History
I understand why the infamous glove was part of Freddy's wardrobe for financial reasons. I can just picture the executives saying "Freddy without a glove is like Jason without a hockey mask!". There's just one little problem with it... the new Freddy wasn't killing children. In fact, I'm not entirely sure what he was doing with the children while he was alive because everyone is really damned vague about it. I don't think Freddy himself knew what he was doing with the children until the last 20 minutes of the film when his lines became laced with pedophile flavoring. But no matter if he was or wasn't, the trademark glove was never assigned a reason for coming into existence.
The sad thing is, they had a way to explain it but didn't. Freddy did a slight occupation change and was dubbed as a gardener for a preschool. (Keep that in mind, it comes into play on my thoughts later on.) Gardeners have all kinds of fun tools they work with, and I could have easily seen such a tool used as a defense weapon when being confronted by a tribe of angry parents. A slight re-design on the glove to make it resemble a garden tool would have fit in fine. Instead, we get to play a guessing game as to how the New Freddy got his glove.
SPOILER #2 - Trying to tip the hat and dropping it, frequently.
They switched out a lot of character names, but I'm going to use the names of old characters as a reference point ( given that many of my readers probably haven't seen this new one anyway.)
I honestly believe that either the writers, the producers (or more likely, both) sat down in development and made a list of all the most memorable scenes of the original film and decided to try to update them.
The first sign that this was going to be a half-hearted attempt at best was with the "Freddy in the Wall" scene. In the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, a very creepy effect was achieved by having the actor stand behind a wall made of stretched fabric and push his body into it. In the remake, a lot of money was dumped into an all-you-can-eat computer-generated buffet and the result was Casper the Friendly Boogeyman.
One of the most unsettling death scenes in the original was Tina's death... that would be the girl who was flung around her room and then dragged to the ceiling in a pool of her own blood. The remake tried to imitate this with the Chris character, and it did get off to a good start. Then, all of a sudden it seemed like someone on set said "Ah, let's just kill her and move on." Swipe of the glove and the hapless victim falls flat down with barely a drop spilled, then bleeds out in a neat little puddle. I have no idea how the boyfriend character got so splattered with it in the following scenes.
The goriest death in the original was not even attempted by the remake, for which I am very thankful. It looks like they tried to acknowledge it with a bloody bedroom scene later on, but it wasn't even close to a proper hat tip.
There were many such scenes that appeared to really want to pay tribute to the original but just seemed to come across as downright insulting to it.
SPOILER #3 - Freddy's Motivation
This is by far the thing that most disappointed me. I could have forgiven all the poorly executed hat tips, the high school characters who all looked like they were in their thirties, even the few cheesy lines that they did eventually give Freddy toward the end if they just would have kept going in the direction that it looked like they were setting up for.
Remember I said they switched his occupation to being a gardener at a preschool? If you were around during the 1980s, you might remember the infamous McMartin Preschool abuse case where false memories and misconstrued evidence played a big part in hanging a lot of innocent people out to dry in a childcare facility. During the first half of the film, there were more-than-subtle hints that such a thing could have happened to dear Freddy who played so well with the children.
The dead Freddy never said or did anything that screamed "child molester" during the majority of the film. All of his lines could have easily been read as a man who was wronged by confused children and their irate parents. As much as I dislike the wrong-man-punished plot lines that seem to ruin otherwise good remakes (like Death Race, the poster child for a remake losing the point by turning the lead into a wronged hero.), I sincerely believe that this remake would have put a very new and interesting spin on the Elm Street story if they would have discovered him to have been innocent.
But alas, they just didn't have the balls to go there. Bad guys have to be bad, and the only thing worse than a child-killer is a child molester. So without actually showing the audience any hard-core evidence of Freddy's guilt, he goes from being a victim to a perp again by the end credits. I wonder if it is just coincidence that around the same time that they confirm his guilt, he begins acting like a pervert and starts up with the wisecracks.
SPOILER #4 - The New Freddy
I actually appreciated the new look and disposition for Freddy up until they made up their minds as to his involvement with children. He was much more milquetoast in character and appearance, not anything like the husky slashers we've grown so accustomed to. There was no way to mistake Haley's performance for Englund's signature portrayal of the character, and I was very pleased to see that. You could tell the character was pissed off, but still maintained a more reserved yet sinister disposition rather than showboating all over the place.
Unfortunately, the film relied heavily on "boo" moments rather than utilizing Haley as an actor.
In conclusion, I feel that the film had the potential but just lacked the balls to become a very interesting re-envisioning of the story.
Info on IMDB: A Nightmare on Elm Street
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