A Nightmare On Elm Street:
Jackie Earle Haley Can Make Anything Worth Watching
When rumors started to fly about that there was to be a remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street, I have to admit, I cringed abit at the idea. How do you recreate one of the most successful film series in history, with one of film's most iconic villains, even if near the end he was more murderous comic relief then true blood and guts slasher villain. The whole world waited nervously to see who would be taking up the bladed glove made famous by Robert Englund, while the world waited, we ofcourse debated who would be worthy to rock the Fedora and sweater of the man that really is the stuff nightmares are made of. And very quietly it was released that it would be brilliant character actor Jackie Earle Haley, fresh off his critic and fan favorite roles in incredible films "Little Children", "Watchmen" and "Shutter Island". When news of this hit, the world of slasher fans ofcourse, started to rejoice, combined with the word that the film would be focused on the horror and scary aspect as apposed to having Freddy cracking jokes and killing people in comical ways, the film would just be a straight up no nonsense slasher thriller, which was a sigh of relief for most fans, given that at times, the old films were almost unbearable with their forced attempts at horror comedy over slasher film fundamentals; blood, gore, out and out horror. When you start laughing at a villain, he's no longer scary. This remake did their best to bring Freddy back to the stuff that nightmares are made of, because with out that, the film would just fall completely apart and crumble to the ground.
The remake differs from the original in many ways, the film is completely horror, there is no formula slasher movie tropes; excessive nudity, generic teenager stereotype characters, drug use or drinking alcohol, excessive sex, ect. And it also takes a page out of the book of 2007's Halloween remake, and tries to make Freddy a human being instead of just a larger then life killing machine, flushing out his back story more, and changing it at the same time, making him a grounds keeper at a pre-school, showing Freddy as alive and on the surface being a caring friendly man who lived in the school's basement, until he's accused of molesting and hurting the children when parents notice afew marks that shouldn't be there on their children, who then tell them that Krueger "took them to a secret cave" and hurt, touched, and took pictures of them, they go as far as to show how Freddy was killed by a mob of parents blinded by rage. You don't really know for sure if Freddy did it until the final act of the film.
Freddy is played more as a poltergeist who is brought back to life by repressed memories surfacing with in the minds of the children who accused him, none of which know who he is until one discovers a hidden away picture of the children in school Freddy worked at. And from there, you discover that Freddy is murdering the children who accused him as they start to remember the slightest inclination of Freddy. You're left confused on if he's doing it to spite the children, or their parents, or to show that he was really alive, and not forgotten as fast as local scandals tend to be forgotten. I rather enjoyed that aspect of the film, the idea that maybe Freddy was a child molester or maybe he was evil because of being a wrongly accused man murdered by a mob that was never brought to justice, instead of a serial murderer who killed for fun. Though I loved this twist and found it bringing depth to the character, I can see how many voiced their opinions against the idea. But thats normal with a character thats in a sense a household name, same with the redesigned making him look more like a burn victim would design, another thing I enjoyed, but see where others would complain..
I can see why many would complain though about the film, you don't see Freddy all that much in the film, he shows up mostly in shadows, and out of the corner of your eye, or just for a second for a jar you out of your seat moment. Modern slasher film fans aren't really big on the concept of "little screen time makes the monster more horrific" so much as all up in your face blood and guts. That always makes me abit sad really. But i can see how many would say Freddy was just a secondary character because of this, but thats always been the formula for movies of this type, the monster is the secondary character who the main characters have to overcome as it kills their friends, to think anything else simply because its the more well known, is just giving into fanwank at its purest level.
So if you're interested in a nice mental mystery hidden behind a slasher film about the stuff nightmares are made of, or you just wanna see Jackie Earle Haley prove why he's one of the best character actors there is right now, then by all means give it a look, or if you just wanna be scared out of your wits, give it a look too.
Here's the trailer...