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Remember when I said I was going to review every movie in the Nightmare On Elm Street series? Yeah, that failed. It's not that I didn't want to do it, and it's not that I couldn't do it. In fact, I had every Nightmare movie reviewed and ready to be posted, but I lost them. I was using Game Informer's blog system and only Game Informer's blog system. I had no back-up in Microsoft Word, I didn't copy and paste it into Notepad, the only thing I had the review on was that blog system. Apparently when I was writing it, GI signed me out without my knowing. When I actually tried to post it, it gave me an error message. When I tried to go back, I got an empty space. You can imagine how I felt after this.
Let's just say I learned from this experience.
Anyways, I had vowed to at least re-review the Nightmare On Elm Street remake, and I even had an idea to include my friend JR as a second opinion on the film. I figured I could review this from a Nightmare and horror fan's perspective, and he could be the average movie-goer. That's also how we'll be handling our discussion about the film and its inevitable sequel later on.
So, without further adieu, I give you our reviews!
Warning: This review does contain spoilers.
As you all know, I love the Nightmare On Elm Street series. You should also know that, originally, I hated the remake. I had seen trailers, heard about it from my brother, and seen the ending of the movie once it was on TV. I thought it was just stupid and unnecessary.
And, of course, they changed actors for Freddy, and the way he looked. I had no interest in seeing the remake at that point, because I knew I was in for disappointment, so why bother? I was scared to see how badly they screwed up my favorite horror character, so it’s kind of ironic in a way.
After actually seeing the full movie, I want to take back everything I said. Well, mostly everything.
First, I’d like to talk about the story. While the basic story is almost identical to the original, they give an incredibly deep backstory to Freddy Krueger and what he was actually like before killed, unlike the original where it’s just explained a little.
He was a groundskeeper at a preschool, and he was great friends with all of the children. He played hide-and-seek with them, he colored with them, and he was just an overall cool guy to hang around. That is… unless he took you to his “secret cave”.
Yes, unlike the original where Freddy was a full-on child murderer, here he’s a… well, you get the picture. That was something that was subtly implied by the original, but they beat you over the head with it here. But wait, he may be innocent! Apparently the only proof the parents had of Fred’s actual wrongdoing was the children’s word, and that was all they needed. They burn Fred alive after chasing him out of town, and that’s why he’s killing the teenagers of Elm Street now. Revenge.
The teenagers assume that Freddy is after them because they lied and got him killed. That would’ve been a nice plot point and twist if they had stuck with it, but no, they find out in the final act that Fred did actually do those horrible things to the children.
This is my biggest problem with the movie, the extremely unnecessary “plot-twist” that we could all see coming a mile away. If they stuck with it and actually made Freddy innocent, he would actually be a hero in a way, albeit that is an extremely odd choice for a horror movie. It would have made him less scary, and sacrificed it for a better story and character, and I honestly can’t tell which one I want more.
Speaking of which, the characters are pretty good here. You’ve got the socially awkward and almost gothic teenager as Nancy, the dorky love interest as Quentin, the likable best friend as Kris, and her “tough guy” boyfriend Jesse. (Fun fact: A lot of those names stem from the original Nightmare On Elm Street series. The only returning names from the original movie that I noticed are Nancy and Freddy.)
If you’ve seen the original movie and know which characters are meant to replace which, you can call most of the deaths, and it lacks a bit of the element of surprise because of it. However, since the creators know you know which characters are going to die, they try to set them up as likable people, and it adds a layer of suspense and emotion. You know that most of these people will eventually die, and you don’t want it to happen.
Along with the main cast, you’ve got the supporting actors who also do a fine job. There’s nothing amazing about their performances, but they get the job done.
And, of course, the main reason any Nightmare On Elm Street fan is watching this is to see the new Freddy in action. I can proudly say that I was wrong in my previous critiques, and Jackie Earle Haley isn’t a bad Freddy at all. Is he Robert Englund? No, but he never comes across as trying to be. He hardly cracks any jokes and he tries to bring a lot more seriousness to the character. However, this makes Freddy lose a bit of the charm we’ve come to love over the years. Of course, we probably shouldn’t be rooting for the psychotic killer in the first place…
With what’s he’s given, Jackie does a fine job at bringing something fresh to the role of Freddy Krueger, and that’s really all you can ask for. His design, however, is still a little… well, off.
They say they tried to make him look like an actual burn victim in this one, but shouldn’t his face be irritated and peeled off rather than just melted? I’m no doctor, but I feel like there should be less skin on his face then there is. Aside from that, his eyes look almost alien-like. That just looks weird.
My biggest complaint with the redesign however is actually just with how much the make-up restricts Jackie from actually showing emotion. His mouth barely moves, you can hardly see his eyes, and I feel like it even limits his speeches and laughter a bit. Sometimes it’s alright, but a lot of times it almost seems like he’s out of breath.
Nitpicks and criticisms aside, the movie is very good, and almost stands up to the original. The only thing that knocks it down is the overuse of jump-scares and lack of subtlety. It makes up for that with the story, acting, characters, and the revival of a fantastic franchise that I’m very excited to see more of. I give it 4.5/5.
From there, we move on to JR's review. Super fanboys, abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
(Quick note: this review will have spoilers, so if you don't want anything spoiled skip over to the last paragraph for my spoiler-free summary)
Okay, so quick confession, I had never seen a horror movie until Mray got me to watch the original 1984 Nightmare (and Scream, but that's another movie). I was a very easily scared kid, so I had never dared watch any horror movies, and when I grew older I just never felt like watching any.
So with that in mind, I saw the original Elm Street, told Mray what I thought about it--that it was okay overall, didn't scare me, but I liked the idea of the dream world--and he thought I should watch the 2010 remake to see what I thought of it. And now, here I am.
I thought the remake was actually kind of good. I didn't hate the original, but the only thing I found particularly good was the concept of the dream world and the villain (or monster?), Freddy Krueger. Whereas this remake, while not necessarily great, was actually pretty good. It still didn't get me legitimately scared, but I have a feeling that it wasn't going for that. It felt like it was just going for something creepy and engaging, and the movie succeeds with that for the most part, especially with the creepiness.
The story is okay. It wasn't bad, necessarily, but there were a few aspects I didn't like. The teenagers are okay characters. They're not really anything special, but again, they're not bad. The kids' parents, though, is where I start to have problems. It is just really hard to believe that they want to murder Freddy. Now I guess you could say this argument applies to the original as well, but in the original the parents knew that Freddy was killing (or was it trying to kill?) their kids. In the remake, they don't. The only thing they have to go on is what the kids are telling them. I'd understand if they called the police, but they don't even do that! They just chase Freddy into an abandoned building and burn it down! It just makes the parents look like psychos, especially the dads, since Nancy's mom actually tries to stop them.
But anyway, before I move on to the other thing that bugged me, I should probably get Freddy's backstory out of the way, which I actually liked a lot. It's much more in-depth than the original, and actually has full-on flashbacks. It's very creepy as well. Freddy apparently worked at a daycare center, which is where the main characters went when they were five, and while they were there he did...bad stuff to them. It's never clear, but it was bad and involved cutting the kids, I think. Very, very creepy.
Now the other thing that bugged me. Halfway through the movie, they find out that they were probably wrong about Freddy. That he was innocent, and now out for revenge on the kids for lying to their parents about their scars. This in particular I thought was pretty cool. Sure, it made not only the parents, but also the 5 year old kids look like psychos, but it was still very creepy in that they might have gotten an innocent man killed. And then, near the end of the movie, they found out that NOPE, Freddy did do that stuff to them. He's after the kids because they told their parents. Kind of unnecessary, and definitely not as interesting as it could've been.
With all that said though, the movie still managed to be creepy and actually engaging to a certain extent. I know it probably sounds like I hated the movie, but the things I didn't like aren't entirely big concerns, and the atmosphere is still creepy throughout the movie. And Freddy and his backstory are great. As for the acting, it ranged from meh to good, but that's more than the original can say, where it ranged from meh to straight-up bad. All in all, I thought it was good but not great, and I'm actually glad I saw it. Rating it on the GI scale (I'm sorry, I just can't work with 5 stars), I'd give it a 7.75/10.
Although the fanboy inside me wants to hit JR right about now, I feel like he makes some very valid complaints, and many I can kind of agree with. Not to mention the fact that his review is a nice contrary to mine.
After we reviewed the movies, we decided to discuss a few very specific points about the movie, as well as what we'd want to see in a sequel. We thought it would be best if we "borrowed" the format from Clone Wars, a blog series run by our friends PR and Stranger. With that said, JR thought of it first, so go after him if you guys decide to sue. Let's get to it. Warning: This discussion will contain many, many spoilers. Beware.
Mray: Say hello JR.
JR: Hello JR!
Mray: Let's jump right into this discussion. Everyone knows your thoughts on the remake now, but how do you think it compares to the original?
JR: I thought that it was better in nearly every aspect. The acting, while still nothing really special, was better. Freddy's backstory was better. The atmosphere, and then of course the effects, I thought was all better. Although I did have issues with Freddy himself sometimes, like in the classroom scene he didn't look very intimidating. But still, that's close to nitpicking.
Mray: I think every Nightmare On Elm Street fan will want to stone you due to that statement, including myself. However, you are right about the effect, except one. The coming out of the wall scene. Do you think the original's was better or worse?
JR: Oh yeah, the coming out of the wall looked pretty cheesy in the remake, and... Now that you mention it, I think the original's WAS better, which is kind of sad considering the time gap between the two movies.
Mray: The reason it looked better in the original is because it was done with practical effects. Just a spandex sheet and clever lighting/camera work. In the remake, it was pure CG.
JR: Yeah, that makes sense. Still, you'd think 2010 CG would look better.
Mray: Sometimes, but I've always thought practical effects were much more clever than CG. To the remake's credit however, not a lot of CG is used, and it's only really noticeable during a few scenes. Moving right along, how to the characters in the remake stack up against the originals?
JR: Actually, that's another thing I forgot to point out. I think that I actually cared about the original's Nancy and her father more than the remake's. I don't know why exactly, maybe it's just the fighting attitude that the original's Nancy had near the end of the movie. Although I thought Freddy's character is better in the remake
Mray: That's exactly what I was thinking. The original's Nancy had plenty of charisma and charm, and her father was extremely believable in the role. The remake's Nancy is a much more socially awkward and intentionally boring character, and although that's common with many people, it doesn't make for an interesting or very likable character. She does get a little better by the end though. Freddy's character is better in the remake when only compared to the original, yes, but that also means he's not mysterious at all, so he loses some intimidation points because of it.
JR: Eh. I think that's more of a personal preference. I personally don't think he's any less intimidating in the remake, but I can see where you're coming from. Plus, the guy was such a psycho before he died. That made him more intimidating for me.
Mray: True, but that was also the case in the original. Even more so, debatably.
JR: It was never explained what exactly he did other than try to kill the kids. In the remake, they show that he was like Victor Zsasz from Batman or something. Or at least that's what I got out of it.
Mray: What do you mean? And in the original, it's not really explained until the other movies, which is what I mean by mysteriousness.
JR: I interpreted the flashbacks and stuff in the remake to say that he was a psycho who enjoyed cutting kids. The original movie just made it seem like he was a murderer and that was it.
Mray: Yeah, that's basically it, actually. In the sequels, he's explained to be the "*** son of 100 maniacs", and he's really just a sadist. I'm not sure how much they were thinking of that with the remake, but he does seem to have a big sadistic side.
JR: Also, this is a kind of random aside, but I could not get over this. What kind of search engine is GigaBlast?
Mray: It's the kind of search engine where you don't want to pay copyright royalties or add product placement to your movies, of course.
JR: Also the kind of search engine that looks dated, apparently.
Mray: So Yahoo? Anyways, aside from Nancy and Freddy, what did you think of the side characters: Kris, Jesse, and Quentin?
JR: Looking back on it, while I don't think Quentin or Jesse stood out much, I kind of liked Kris. I almost thought she was going to be the main focus of the movie at the beginning, and honestly, I wouldn't have minded that. Although the scene where Jesse's killed is amazing.
Mray: That was a great scene. And I completely agree with you about Jesse and Kris. Jesse was the obvious d-bag boyfriend, and Jesse was a million times more likable than Tina from the original. I wouldn't have minded if Kris was the main focus either. In fact, that would make the movie seem even less like a remake and more like a reboot. With that said, I have one thing to touch on, Kris's death. Does it make me a bad person if I say I laughed at it?
JR: Haha, no, it was kind of silly. I think they were trying to sort of recreate the death of...ah, I forget his name, but Johnny Depp's character in the original.
Mray: Glen. And yeah, I guess I can see that, although I felt the scene where Nancy fell onto the bed in her school dress was more of a reference to that. But the main part where I laughed at Kris's death was where she rolls on the side of the ceiling and it makes that almost cartoony rolling and "Thu-thu-thu-THUNK" sound. That also helps lead into another topic, the callbacks. From what I could spot, there were about five memorable callbacks to the original series.
JR: Yeah, the bathtub, the...really weird licking, the wall, Glen's death, the scene in the original where Tina was tossed around the ceiling, and the corpse in the school. I think the only one that ended up working is MAYBE the corpse. Everything else, particularly the really weird licking, just seemed out of place or corny.
Mray: I thought the corpse scene and bathtub scene were alright. The corpse scene especially was pretty scary. What was wrong with them? And what do you mean by Glen's death?
JR: The amount of blood spewing everywhere, which like I said earlier you could say was what Kris's death tried to recreate. As for what was wrong with them, the bathtub scene just seemed corny, although it wasn't too big a problem. The wall's effects didn't look as good. It's really just when Freddy licks the side of Nancy's face that irks me. But I don't know, maybe you could argue that it just adds to his creepiness.
Mray: That was pretty unnecessary, but it was an obvious callback to the phone in the original.
JR: So now a quick question for you. Why do you like the original better? Nostalgia maybe?
Mray: That's a big part of it, but I also feel like the original should get points for originality. At the time, there was absolutely nothing like it. While it was indeed based around the slasher genre that Halloween and Friday the 13th established, the original Nightmare brought a whole a whole new idea with a killer that not only kills, but takes immense pleasure in it, and has an actual, deep personality. I also feel like that sadistic personality is a lot more fleshed out in the original, and actually makes Freddy intimidating and funny, while at the same time being extremely arrogant because he knows the teenagers can't fight him. It makes for a really entertaining character to watch. I also feel like Nancy is much stronger in the original, and you actually believe she would learn survival techniques to fend for herself. Plus, the original gets a point for subtlety, as I touch upon in my review. And those sentences probably make me sounds extremely morbid, and will most likely incriminate me. I'd like to say I am not a psycho. Well, not really.
JR: Those are all very good points. But as someone who saw the two movies just a month or two apart, I think the remake simply got the job done better. Like I said, Freddy's much creepier, and the overall atmosphere of the movie is much more apparent.
Mray: I will agree with that, the atmosphere and cinematography is much more immersive in the remake. And now, onto the big question: Will you watch the inevitable sequel?
JR: I can't believe I would ever say this, but honestly, even though plot wise I don't think there should be one, yes I would. The remake was just good enough and engaging enough that I would see a sequel if it came out.
Mray: I believe that if there's a sequel, like the originals, it'll be for the people who like the characters and idea, not for the story. And I agree, I will most definitely watch a sequel, in theaters. TAKE MY MONEY, MICHAEL BAY AND NEW LINE!
JR: Haha, I really have no clue if I'd be able to watch it in theaters. It'll all depend on the circumstances. But if I get the chance, I will.
Mray: I will force my way into a theater if I have to. There is no way I'm missing out on seeing a Nightmare On Elm Street movie in the theaters.
JR: Now, I'd be interested to see if they went the same route as the original movies, because while I haven't seen them beyond the first, they sound like they get...interesting, from what I've heard you talk about them.
Mray: That's... a word for them. We digress though. How do you feel about the rumors going around about the sequel? From what I hear, I believe they're working on a script, and Freddy will wear two gloves like in his Mortal Kombat appearance, and his face will deteriorate throughout the film. Personally, that just makes me angry.
JR: ...If I said that sounds kind of cool, would you kill me?
Mray: Which part sounds the coolest to you?
JR: The face deteriorating. If done right, it sounds like it could be pretty interesting.
Mray: Lie down so I can stomp your face in. He's a burn victim, not a zombie!
JR: I don't know. It really depends on how it's handled. The two gloves thing also sounds kind of cool.
Mray: That does sound kind of cool, but I can only imagine gore-porn scenarios if it's the case, not clever horror.
Mray: However, if they make another Freddy vs. Jason movie, I'll be all for double gloves.
JR: Haven't seen that movie, but I agree. It seems like two gloves is more fit for fighting then preying on kids.
Mray: And that's why he's awesome in Mortal Kombat. With that said, I think we've covered every topic possible with this discussion. Thanks for participating with me JR, I hope it was fun.
JR: It was! I had a lot of fun doing this.
When I found the link to those Nightmare 2 rumors, I discovered that everything had been changed about the entry. It was from a Wikia, so take that for what it's worth. But hey, it's still supposed to get a release date soon, right?
I hope you had fun reading our reviews and discussion, and since this is technically the cap on Nightmare-A-Thon, I hope you enjoyed that too. Goodbye, and sweet dreams.