Sunday, 17 February 2013

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

"You really shouldn't fall asleep in class!"

I'm really not a fan of unnecessary remakes, particularly all the recent remakes of '80s movies; why not just make an original film? Still, this seemed the obvious thing to blog next, having just reviewed the original. It's an odd beast; this is, to date, the only film helmed by Samuel Bayer, whose career essentially consists of a highly impressive list of music videos, most famously Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", during the recording of which he earned himself a reputation as something of a tyrant. Given that background, he's given us a film that is as technically polished as one might expect, but it doesn't quite work: it's well-shot, but it just isn't scary.

There are many things about this film, not least the dialogue and performances, which can be said to surpass the original, reflecting both the general improvement in quality over time and the relatively higher status afforded to this remake in contrast to the low budget original. The story is more slickly told, more tightly edited, pacier, etc, etc. It's also rather noticeable, incidentally, that teenagers in 2010 appear to be far more mature and intelligent than they were back in 1984! I'm aware this remake has been criticised for its emphasis on Freddy Krueger's paedophile origins, although my impression of the original is that this has always been implicit: he was always a "child killer". Even so, making this explicit arguably distracts from the scares. I think the idea is to make the whole thing a metaphor for repressed memories of abuse, but this doesn't make the film any scarier.

General lack of scares aside, the new Freddy Krueger just doesn't work. The make-up looks good, but it doesn't look scary. Jackie Earle Haley is a good actor, but he's miscast as Freddy. And there are lots of things which, in isolation, are good ideas (the nods to the science of insomnia, the emphasis on the backstory, the twist that Freddy was indeed guilty of abusing the children), but distract from what should be a tightly focussed horror film.

Some minor points: this film, like pretty much all of both American and British popular culture, has a game called "tag" and the phrase "tag, you're it". In the playgrounds of Leicestershire, during my childhood, it was definitely "tig" and "tig, you're on". Is this a regional thing?

No comments:

Post a Comment