A Nightmare on Elm StreetThursday 06 May 2010
Hollywood loves remakes right now, and the studios are going to continue to make them, whether we like it or not. So, is this high profile remake up to scratch or even worthy of the title of the original? Probably not, but it's a decent effort.
For those of you who missed Wes Craven's 1984 horror classic, the story is a simple one. Four teenagers living on Elm Street begin to have the same vivid, petrifying nightmare. These nightmares involve them 'dreamwalking' in strange and eerie scenarios which are inhabited by the same person, Freddy Krueger. He is intent on killing them, for reasons that eventually become clear.
Krueger is a terribly disfigured man. Wearing a striped green and red jumper, he uses gloves stitched with razorblades to kill his victims. Think Edward Scissorhands' long lost evil brother and you are on the right track.
But these nightmares have a catch: they are so real that when the dreamer is in them, they can't wake up. So if they die in their nightmare, they die for real.
The original 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is regarded as a classic of the teen horror genre. It has it all: a beautiful, blonde girl being tormented by an ugly beast; horrifying, yet iconic murders; people doing absolutely stupid things which are bound to get them killed; and, of course, a superb villain. Fans of the original and indeed all gore horror will be pleased to know the remake has all of the above.
Krueger is one of the truly great creations of horror: a gnarled, mysterious creature who inhabits not the real world, where police can catch him, but one's mind. That is what makes him so powerful - his ability to avoid the law and drive his prey to insanity.
One of my gripes with the original 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is that the effects have dated poorly. When this happens to any movie, it makes it that little bit harder to suspend disbelief and immerse oneself in the story. This is especially the case with horror films, when allowing oneself to forget reality is the key to enjoyment. One major upside of this new version is that the effects are superb. Krueger is genuinely gruesome and so realistic looking.
Another hugely satisfying element is that the plot is actually quite good. Yes, you read correctly. It is par for the course in teen horrors for viewers to be subjected to drivel plot-wise, while teenagers are burnt and slashed left, right and centre. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' actually holds back on the killings and instead tries to explain Krueger's background, while also cranking up the tension.
As well as improving on plot and effects, the film looks good, damn good. It is shot in a gritty, yet surprisingly well-filmed style, which is an unexpected bonus.
In my own mind, there are three types of horror flick: genuinely frightening; funny; and gory. While 'Nightmare...' is good on many levels, it doesn't have the depth to genuinely scare. It is also extremely dark, and as a result fails to produce a huge amount of laughs. That leaves gore as its main strength. Now, while the claret might be entertaining, it leaves the film lacking the necessary bite to distinguish itself as truly memorable. However, if one attempts to view this as an updated version, with nods to the original throughout, 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is perfectly watchable.