Aka – Nightmare, A Nightmare on Elm Street 9
Ah yes, the infamous, nearly universally critically panned remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. I’ve deliberately avoided it since it came out due to the immense amount of terrible things I’d heard about it. Still, I like Jackie Earle Hailey, and I suppose the curiosity finally got to me. So, is it as bad as they say ?
Much like the original, this one revolves around recurring dreams that a group of students begin having. They are all being haunted (and attacked) by a burned man with a glove made of knives. As the mystery around this man begins to unfold, one by one they are picked off by this man, this Freddy Krueger. But who IS he ? And can they find a way to stop him before he finishes them all off ?
The cast actually has a trio of noteworthy people, though vastly different fields of noteworthy. Obviously Jackie Earle Hailey is best known for playing Rorschach in the excellent “Watchmen” adaptation. He was also in the “Bad News Bears” series, “Shutter Island” and the upcoming “Lincoln” (no vampires though). Additionally featuring actress Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Prometheus”, “The Social Network”) and lastly, from the “Twilight” series, Kellan Lutz. On the plus side he dies in the first 10 minutes. Spoiler.
Now, obviously when you watch a remake of a classic horror movie that you like that’s already been torn to shreds by everyone, you really go in with next to no expectations. I like the original a lot, but I didn’t care for the “Friday the 13th” remake. I like the “Texas Chainsaw” remake at the time, but by and large I have not been a fan of these “reboots”. I’d hoped that ANOES redux would bring something new to the table.
Now, that having been said, this remake is not “terrible”. Quite frankly, I really liked the sort of “mystery” aspect to the did he/didn’t he backstory. It’s a neat angle that the original didn’t really exploit. It’s pretty clear that Freddy is likely a pedophile, but the idea that the kids inadvertently condemned an innocent man who is now back for revenge, well, I personally liked the way they handled that storyline.
Honestly though, that’s probably about the best thing I can say about this movie. The new Freddy make up is weird, making him look sort of like the killer from “Popcorn” and the worm man from “X-Files”. It just didn’t work. This is especially funny because apparently they’d originally had a more “disturbing” Freddy face, but they didn’t want people to recoil at the sight of him so they toned it down. Really ?! It’s a horror movie !! Come on !! He’s SUPPOSED to look scary !! What the hell man ?! Anyway, the kills are okay, but they overuse the “oh, you’re dreaming now !” Excuse WAY too many times.
I suppose I knew what I was getting into with this movie, but it was still enjoyable enough for what it is. I’ve always been more of a F13 fan then ANOES, though I do like 1, 7 and Dream Warriors, so that counts for something I think.
The most interesting thing I learned about this movie is that Jackie Earle Hailey had originally tried out for the first “Nightmare” film. He brought his friend Johnny Depp along, who was spotted by Wes Craven and, well, needless to say Hailey didn’t get the job. It’s a cool story, and neat to see it come full circle for Hailey. Still, it would’ve been nice to see it happen with a better script. As is, it’s not the worst, but you may as well stick with the original.