HOLLYWOOD—Man, oh man, when I think of one of the most original, most creative horror flicks of all time, I always go back to Wes Craven’s 1984 classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” There is something about this movie that is so universal, so scary that it will literally haunt your dreams for days, weeks, months, years to come after watching.
I mean the notion of a boogeyman of sorts who stalks people in their dreams. The icing on the cake is the fact that if you die in your dreams you die in real life! It’s frightening, and considering I’m someone fascinated by sleep patterns and dreams, it raises that question of the possibility it maybe could happen. Craven’s script follows Freddy Krueger, a child murderer who got released on a technicality. As a result, a group of parents tracked him down, dosed him with gasoline and lit the match burning him alive. It only gets crazier from there, as Freddy has gained some unique ability to invade the dreams of his murderers’ children. Yeah, I like that twist, one would expect Freddy to go after the parents, but instead he goes after their children. The 1984 version, delivers a sensational heroine in Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), who goes toe-to-toe with the villain as her friends succumb one-by-one to the dream-stalker. I love the psychology of this movie and that ending is just pure classic.
Now flash-forward to 2010 and we get the remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I was eagerly anticipating this movie because a modernized version of this classic can take so many approaches to bring a new element of horror to a new audience. For starters, technology has improved vastly since 1984, and the thought of the types of visuals that could be used for dream sequences were exploding in my mind.
I was also intrigued by the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger. Yes, Robert Englund is the one and only Freddy, but I was open to the idea. The only other actor, I think capable of really giving Englund a run for his money is Johnny Depp. FYI, Depp made his film debut in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The biggest problem with this remake is the lack of development in the characters is just baffling. Even the heroine portrayed by Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara is bad. As a viewer, you can care less if she lives or dies, and it doesn’t help that the script aimed to make her a recluse. If that was the plan, she should have been developed a bit more.
The script is just weak; its drags in my opinion, and while there are maybe 2-3 good scares in the movie, the potential for so many more is ignored. Why? This remake was geared to be just that a remake similar to the 1998 version of “Psycho.” There was no drive from the filmmakers in my opinion to manifest a new tale, new scares and new twists. I mean we got so many classic moments from the original, just in a modernized version. That is the problem with horror remakes: stop trying to pay homage to the original. That’s why you have the original! The remake should be a fresh take on the original, if you’re doing the same thing the original did, the audience knows what to expect people!
So this is an easy debate: the 1984 version of an “A Nightmare on Elm Street” far exceeds what the 2010 version attempted to do. If you truly want a great scare this Halloween, the original runs circles over the remake and is proof of what a good horror movie does: it unnerves you!