Monday, November 1, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I'm gonna start with some major plot spoilers. Skip to paragraph three below if you don't want to know about Freddy's [new] past, and the moral dilemma that this film conjures.

Picture this: a gardener at a preschool becomes the focus of a satanic ritual abuse scare. The parents of the children attending the preschool - in the interest of protecting their children (or is it avenging the death of their children's innocence?) - choose to forego the usual process of justice and apprehend the gardener (reasonably fleeing in fear for his own safety) with no evidence beyond hearsay (after all, it's too risky to consider the possibility that he might be innocent), and kill him in a rather gruesome manner, by burning him alive while trapped in an old building.

Shall we talk about society creating monsters? I of course won't justify the murder of innocents under any context, but is there not some sense of justice in the accused seeking revenge against the children of those who judged and executed him before the eyes of god? After all, he's already paid the ultimate price for his crimes - if he hasn't already committed them, is he not somewhat entitled to by this point? Those parents condemned their children - and they did it with the purest of intentions. And even if their hunches were correct, as they may well have been, brutality is paid with brutality, and in continuing the cycle they have again condemned their children to their fate. And if the crimes were nonviolent in nature? Then the parents themselves are responsible for entering bloodlust into the equation.

(End spoilers)

Among the classic slasher series, A Nightmare on Elm Street stands out as being rather unique, in that the killer's preferred venue is his victims' dreams. This opens the door for some really spectacular - and really terrifying - scenes. Nightmares don't have to make sense, and terror is so much more visceral in the dream world. Plus, there is the troubling questions of whether or not to believe that the monster tormenting you is real, how to get others to believe you, and the fact that the symptoms of the fear are exacerbated by your natural reaction to it - avoiding sleep.

I have mixed feelings about the remake; the movie is flawed, but the source material is so rich. The nightmares were exciting. But I felt like there wasn't enough establishment of the characters - this is something the original accomplished in spades. The one character in particular, Kris, gave off a kind of a Taylor Swift vibe - in that she looked like a 25 year old pretending to be a 15 year old. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think the role called for a high schooler, not a career woman pretending to be a high schooler. I liked Nancy in this film, but there's just no way she can hold a candle to the original Nancy, who was unforgettable - one of the all-time great protagonists from a slasher film.

This film introduced two ideas I don't remember being specifically outlined in the original, that really enhanced the terror. First is the recounted fact that after the heart dies, the brain lives on for a number of minutes - meaning that if Freddy kills you by stopping your heart, you've got that many minutes left to endure his torture before you can finally die. The other idea is the details of sleep deprivation - that if you stay awake long enough, you'll start to experience "micro naps", and begin to dream with your eyes open. The film capitalizes on this by effectively blurring the line between the waking and dreaming worlds. Furthermore, if you stay awake long enough, your brain will instinctively snap into a coma - thus, no matter how hard you try to keep from falling sleep, you're moving inevitably towards that result, in which you'll be trapped in the nightmare indefinitely!

The concept behind A Nightmare on Elm Street is so good (and the realm of dreams so rich for exploration), that it's hard to watch any movie like this and feel like the depths were adequately explored. But, I think this movie was good and scary. Jackie Earle Haley put in a good turn as Freddy Krueger, and reflected the rather dark nature of the rest of the film, but not without retaining little flashes of the character's trademark black humor. The original film is just so good though, that I can't say this one matches it. Also, the sensational kills of the original can never be topped. But the infamous bathtub scene is reprised. ;-)


  1. Great overview. Those two ideas are exactly what impressed me about the movie as well, the micronaps/comas and brain death.

    I liked the new Nancy. She didn't really have... anything in common with the original Nancy, as far as I could see. But she was cool. I think they based her more off of the Dream Master girl from the third and fourth films. Shy, kind of the odd girl out, thoughtful and perceptive. Wasn't the idea of the remake to combine the best parts of the first few films in the series, or was that only F13 who did that?

    Forgive me but I do have to ask... does Taylor Swift really look 25? 'Cause in 2010 she was 20. She definitely has an ellegance (and tallness) to her that make her look older though.

    What I'm pissed about is this is the remake I DIDN'T buy and it turns out to be the one I like the most. It's just that, after FvJ I liked Robert Englund's Freddy so much I didn't want to give a new Freddy portrayal a chance. At the time I didn't realize how much more I like the Nightmare series than the others...

    But the new Freddy definitely does a good job. His physique/make-up I'm not 100% sold on (he looked really smooth, almost like an alien). But I loved the deep voice, very creepy. And I loved the backstory, even if they messed it up at the 11th hour.

    I don't think there's much chance of a sequel but I'd really like there to be one. I mean there has to be SOME new Nightmare movie at some point, these slashers have gone on so long they (like their villains) will never die forever. But at this point unfortunately I think the most likely possibility for the next Nightmare film would simply be another new reboot. I don't mind horror remakes what-so-ever (I quite like them actually), but I can't stand instant reboots. Give one version some time to breath before you press reset and do it all over again!

  2. Just give me some time to finish my treatment, and then search for some investors, and then the world will have the Nightmare movie it needs. ^_-

    Robert Englund IS Freddy Krueger, that much is certain, but after seeing Jackie Earl Haley in Little Children, where he plays a registered sex offender, and then in the dark role of Rorschach in Watchmen, I thought he was the *perfect* choice for the new Freddy Krueger. That's one thing the filmmakers did absolutely correct for this remake. It does, however, make it all the more disappointing about the direction the story ended up going in, considering that Haley's character in Little Children was sympathetic.

    re: Taylor Swift. Lol, that's funny. I had no idea how old she was. I dunno, I guess I associate "20 years old" with college coeds, and she looked a little more mature than your average college coed (which is decidedly a compliment). I dunno. It doesn't help that Hollywood so consistently screws with people's heads by casting characters (especially young characters) with actors of disparate age. I've always thought Taylor Swift was pretty, though, whatever age she is and whatever age she wants to be. :-3