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Friday, May 14, 2010

Meeting of the Minds: The Nightmare on Elm Street Remake

If I haven't already just come out and said it by now, I guess now is as good a time as any: Yes, I liked the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. And yes, I realize I seem to be in the minority on this (that's happening a lot lately, I must be getting soft in my old age.) Apparently most horror fans--or at least most over the age of 16--seem to have nothing but bile and vitriol for the latest Platinum Dunes product. One of the most bilious and vitriolic happens to be none other than VoH contributor Marilyn Merlot. So, as with our horror vs. thriller debate, I figured what better way to hash out the issue than another one-on-one discussion...

B-Sol: OK so, obviously you didn't care for it at all.

Marilyn Merlot: No, I didn't. It's ironic that the kids in the movie are trying not to fall asleep, because I think the audience was also trying to not fall asleep.

BS: Well, I have to say that your opinion seems to be the one most people have. I went in thinking I'd feel the same way, but I actually kind of liked it. I surprised myself! I mean, I wouldn't say I loved it or went nuts for it, but I thought it was fun, and not the disaster I was expecting.

MM: You thought it was fun... I'm perplexed to hear you say that.

BS: I thought it worked on its own merits. It's still a very cool concept, and even though it didn't pull it off as well as the original, I still thought it was an effective horror movie. The original is still much scarier, but I thought this one brought some interesting things to the table.

MM: I just don't see it. The plot and the characters all fell flat for me. Take nancy for example, someone who in the original carried the film and was a leading part. This new Nancy was not a strong character, and pale and way too skinny, with no power in her. I did not like the fact that they changed some characters. Like Katie Cassidy should have been Tina, not Kris. Don't get me going on the famous bed scene with her going up the wall and to the ceiling, and the major blood bath--that didn't happen. Granted, she did get knocked around pretty good, but thats it!

BS: Yes, they did turn Nancy emo, this is true. And the rest of the characters were pretty lame and annoying, especially Quentin, who seemed to be there to appeal to the Twilight crowd. I also thought it was weird that they carried over Nancy, but none of her friends from the original. That said, I really liked how they delved into the Freddy backstory, and gave Jackie Earle Haley a lot to do. The movie was basically more about Freddy than the kids, which is different from the original, but I thought it was a cool direction. I even liked how they make you think for a second that he might've been innocent!

MM: Yes, her friends were annoying, and I'm still upset over the fact that we had no Johnny Depp character. Another famous bed scene, and another blood bath that didn't happen. The fact that Freddy might have been innocent was a cool concept, but I didn't like the new Freddy... from the makeup to his voice. It just didn't sit right with me.

BS: OK, I'll agree with part of that. His look did nothing for me. They made him look like a realistic burn victim, which was the wrong way to go. He wound up looking like an alien, or a turtle or something. But other than his appearance, I think he himself did a pretty good job with the role. I was OK with the more normal-sounding voice.

MM: Granted, the guy does creep me out in real life ever since I saw him in Little Children starring Kate Winslet. He is a great actor. This was not the role for him!

BS: I kept thinking of the Little Children part while I was watching this, and how they also went fully into the territory of child molestation here, too. They always kind of stayed away from that in the old ones, I think on purpose.

MM: The whole thing about him molesting the children, but no one actually saying he did, was a little weird to me. The whole plot of the movie just didn't work. I did not find it scary or suspenseful. Are you actually telling me you did? Seriously B-Sol, I'm starting to question your judgment on movies!

BS: I bet you're not the only one! I may very well be getting soft lately, but I actually liked how a lot of it was presented. It might not have been as scary or suspenseful as the original, but the Freddy scenes were still very well done, when they weren't relying too heavily on CGI. I, for one, loved the part where they paid tribute to the Tina murder from the original, where she's floating in the air. That really worked for me.

MM: By that point, nothing worked for me.

BS: I did come away feeling the whole thing was kind of unnecessary--at least from a creative standpoint, I'm sure it's making a lot of money. But as remakes of horror classics go, this was definitely one of the more acceptable ones in recent memory. Yes, that's a lukewarm endorsement; I liked it, but not as strongly as you hated it, I think.

MM: There were so many key points in the original that they left out. I even had to laugh at some mistakes that I caught in the movie. For example, Nancy is watching this one kid blog on video about his Freddy dreams ,and we see him die on film. Who uploaded it for him after? Or the fact that when Kris is home alone she puts the alarm system on, but her boyfriend has no problem climbing through the bedroom window with no alarm going off--then when he goes outside to check on the dog that ran out... again, no alarm. Sorry, the movie was poorly done.

BS: Yes, it did have a slew of logic issues, no doubt about that, but those kinds of technicalities didn't put me off. I initially had high hopes for the movie, which came way down after reading a lot of responses. But then when i saw it, I think I wound up somewhere in the middle. I was hoping mainly for a solid, mainstream horror movie that was fun without being actively awful or offending my horror snob sensibilities. And I actually think that's what I got. Unlike, say, the Friday the 13th remake, which was so lame and pointless it actually made me angry. Almost as angry as this Nightmare remake has made you!

MM: I would watch the remake of Friday the 13th anyday!

BS: So that one you liked??

MM: I actually didn't mind that one, but then again, you never cared for the original, so for you to judge the remake isn't acceptable to me... With all due respect, of course!

BS: I am a died-in-the-wool F13 hater, and yes, I did find the remake to be very faithful to the old ones, which explains why I didn't like it.

MM: If you don't like the original, it's just not fair for you to judge a remake.

BS: Well, clearly we are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the Michael Bay-produced horror remakes. How about you stick with Friday the 13th, I stick with A Nightmare on Elm Street, and we call it a day?

MM: Agreed.... Now just don't fall asleep...


Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

Terrific interview. I haven't seen it yet so I don't have an opinion on the movie. My son and I just go through watching all of the old Nightmare on Elm Streets. He absolutely loathes New Nightmare. I thought the concept was kind of interesting but the execution was forced on that one.

deadlydolls said...

B-Sol, in the words of the dwarf from LOTR, you have my axe.

Can't agree more. This was a decent remake of a good horror film. Nothing really iconic here, but plenty of tenseness that drew me in while delivering something new. Was it Dream Warriors caliber? No. Did it beat Dream Child? I'd say yes, and those who disagree should rewatch that installment and see how well those dreadful one-liners and hasty characterizations hold up.

B-Sol said...

Ghost, I actually loved New Nightmare--a great reinvention of the series that didn't seem to find an audience.

Emily, no question this remake was at least better than some of those awful late sequels. Here's to the vocal minority!

kaiyn said...

I am glad to know that there are other people out there that actually liked it, and that I am not alone in the minority. :)

RayRay said...

Okay, I'm not planning on seeing this until it appears on my satellite tv, but after reading the transcript of this conversation, I have to say this: I am disturbed by the trend in the remakes of the horror classics of my childhood and teen years where the monster is humanized.

As was said in the interview: "The fact that Freddy might have been innocent was a cool concept..."

No, that isn't cool. If that were the story, it would be freakin' tragic. But the point is that Freddie was a monster in life, and became a monster in death. To humanize him for the sake of a Shyamalanish "Twist!" is a cheap attempt to play on emotions that should not be there.

If he were innocent, then why the not so innocent vengeance on those who were innocent of harming him - the kids? Why not just go after the ones who harmed him, ala Dark Night of the Scarecrow?

Rob Zombie did this with Halloween - a very not bad remake - which undermined the unholy power of the subject monster initially known as The Shape by humanizing him and making him into a run-of-the mill serial murderer rather than the inexplicable killer he originally was. It looks like the re-makers are doing the same thing with Freddie.

Note to film makers: making monsters less of a monster does not a thing to make your horror movie more horrifying.

B-Sol said...

To clarify, the reason I was OK with the whole Freddy-innocent angle was {SPOILER} that it turns out to be only a red herring. I liked the idea of playing with the audiences expectations, but I would NOT have liked it if it turned out that he actually WAS innocent. It is revealed that he most certainly was not. I, too, detested the humanization of Michael Myers in the Halloween remake.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

Are you like *trying* to get me to break up with this blog? First that Eden Lake shit and now this. I'm not sure I can take it. Are we in an abusive relationship?

Todd Guerra said...

I like that, for the last half of the movie at least, they tried to do something different with the series instead of rehashing it all. I think too many horror fans and bloggers went in EXPECTING it to suck, and looking for things that were terrible so they could focus on it instead of (gasp!) actually enjoying the movie for what it is and having to possibly admit to people that they liked a Platinum Dunes movie.

Was it great? No, like I said...I hated the first half of it because it was a cheap, poorly written rehash of the original (oddly enough, MM hated that there wasn't ENOUGH homage to the original. If you want to see the iconic scenes from the original movie, why not just watch that movie? I don't want to see them in a remake). I liked that they did some interesting things in the 2nd half. I like that Freddy was actually creepy again, instead of being over the top and ridiculous like he was in the later Nightmare sequels.

They took some chances, and unfortunately not all of them worked. It's still the start of what I hope to be a decent new franchise. I hated the F13 remake, and I'm a huge F13 fan. They weren't trying with that movie. It felt like they were trying with the Nightmare remake.

B-Sol said...

Missy, I'm testing your faith! Kind of like Job, only with less bloodshed.

HorrO said...

Wow, I found a place where people actually liked the movie. I liked it too, and am tired of reading bad reviews of the movie. I have to say, good call on the alarm not going off when he came in the window, but then going off when he ran out of the house. I will have to check that scene out again. I liked the focus more on Freddy, and found it interesting that they really tired to make you hate him. Also, I agree, this Nancy was weak. Katie should have played her part at the least.

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