Sunday, April 10, 2011
A Nightmare for Filmgoers
Nightmare on Elm Street, written by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, based on the movie of the same name written and directed by Wes Craven, directed by Samuel Bayer, starring Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner and Jackie Earle Haley (2010):
"Initially, Fred Krueger was intended to be a child molester, however the decision was changed to him being a child murderer to avoid being accused of exploiting a spate of highly publicized child molestations that occurred in California around the time of production of the film." -- Wikipedia entry on the original A Nightmare on Elm Street movie (1984).
Well, we come first to the first problem with this leaden remake of what is generally considered to be, at the very least, one of the well-made slasher films of the 1970's and 1980's. In the original, Freddy is a child-murderer. Somehow, this seems way more wholesome than pedophile, which is what the new Freddy is -- though he's a pedophile who appears to be sexually attracted to the late-teen-aged versions of his pre-school victims.
Psychologically speaking, this somehow manages to be both ridiculous and truly repulsive because of the way the movie operates. We're still on a roller-coaster ride. This isn't a remake of Fritz Lang's criminal underworld vs. sweaty little pedophile/child-killer masterpiece M. The pedophilia referred to throughout the movie sucks pretty much all the air out of this reboot; what remains gets sucked out by the pedestrian minds of the film-makers.
The original Freddy was an interesting character because he talked. A lot. The other two serial-killer icons of the first Slasher Film era, Jason and Michael Myers, were pretty much mute killing machines. Freddy Krueger instead had the tendency towards awful jokes and puns that had previously been seen only in James Bond-type heroes and the grisly hosts of 1950's horror anthology comics that included such titles as The Crypt of Terror and The Vault of Horror (this would be officially adapted as Tales from the Crypt on HBO).
Of course, the real draw of the series was original writer-director Wes Craven's realization that nightmares were both scary and a fertile playground for slasher-type horror. Later writers on the series would take this further into the realms of the uncanny and the surreal, while Craven, when he returned for the New Nightmare, reimagined Freddy as a sort of tulpa figure threatening the world of the filmmakers themselves, given physical form by millions of movie-watchers.
Here, though, we're trapped in a world of sketchily written characters both teenaged and adult, and in a concept made far too heavily disturbing to be the foundation of this type of movie. You can't have a pedophilia-themed haunted house ride. It's fucking ridiculous. The actors do what they can with the material, but there's really nothing to be done withy the material as it thuds and blunders its way to another "shocking" twist ending which only caused me to say, out loud, "Oh, great. Now he's Candyman too!" Not recommended.