Freddy’s New Nightmare

May 4, 2010

*SPOILER WARNING*

Caught the Nightmare on Elm Street remake today and, much like the remakes that have come before it, I find myself liking some things and not caring for others. When Nightmare 2010 was trying to be its own thing, it did pretty well. When it was trying to walk in its forefather’s footsteps, however, it tripped.

Robert Englund as old school Krueger circa 1984.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen some of the iconic moments the new version tries to recreate from the original, such as Freddy’s gloved hand emerging from Nancy’s bathtub…while Nancy is also in the tub. That’s a straight lift from the original, as is the scene where a ghostly Krueger bends a wall to his will. Neither of these is executed as well as they were in the original, and were really unnecessary to begin with – there are some clever nods to such scenes later in the film (remember Freddy’s tongue licking Nancy through the phone? This time he does it in person, and it’s even ickier than the first time) that work better because they aren’t exact duplicates.

The movie does play with Freddy’s backstory a little more, and while I like what they were going for – hinting that Krueger may not have been guilty of everything his killers believed – it was brought down by ham-handed execution. The kids quickly jump to the conclusion that the accusations they made against Freddy when they were little were made up, and then just as quickly discover that, no, the parents were right and Fred was a perv. That could have been drawn out a little longer and been more effective.

Jackie Early Haley as Freddy 2.0.

Those things aside, though, let’s talk about Freddy. I was worried about anyone other than Robert Englund wielding the glove…until they hired Jackie Earl Haley. Haley brings a sick, twisted sense of sleeze to the character that Englund was just too charming to manage. Don’t get me wrong, Englund still owns the part, but Jackie has brought us a new version that I hope to see a lot more of.

That’s right. I liked this enough to want more. While it was, like all the Platinum Dune remakes thus far, maybe a little too slick and polished to really capture the spirit of the original, I think this one has come closest so far. The nightmares could be a little more surreal, the characters a little more fleshed out, and there could be less reliance on the jump scares, but all in all this new Nightmare holds its own against a pretty tough standard.

*EVEN BIGGER SPOILER ALERT*
(For the record, the movie geek in me really got all fired up when a character named Quentin used a needle full of adrenaline straight to the heart to wake up another character – just like John Travolta did in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Nice.)