At this time horror fans are so beaten down to a messy shit stain that they really don’t have the strength to complain about remakes of their beloved horror classics anymore. Because whether we like it or not, Platinum Dunes and other horrific money grubbing companies will rehash our favorite titles and nothing is off limits. That preface aside, Neo-Nightmare sets down on basically the same premise except with ten times less the flavor and creativity of Wes Craven’s admittedly dated original. I never liked Platinum Dunes to begin with but “A Nightmare on Elm Street” ends as such a blatant spit in the face of horror fans everywhere it practically begins with a disclaimer reading, “We don’t give a shit about quality, but hey at least we have your money, suckers!” And they fell for it hook line and sinker.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a sign that people in Hollywood aren’t even looking to create a big horror film anymore. They don’t care, and it shows. All these young directors and music video directors do is get in, make a really bad horror movie, make a killing off of the gullibility and curiosity of horror fans and general audiences and then move on to other projects while pretending they’ve been above this genre fodder from the beginning. Meanwhile we watch yet another really great character like Freddy Krueger butchered on-screen in front of our very eyes and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. If you put this remake in to the right hands, there is no limit to the possibilities the proper director could have gone with this.
There could have been explorations in to the psyche, looks at the variations of dream worlds, and the true horrors our own minds can inflict on us when aided by a dream demon named Freddy Krueger who has powers over our private dominions. Freddy Krueger could have transformed from a demon with clawed hands in to a really horrific monster with powers unparalleled. Imagine his claws signifying talons that could rip through reality, imagine the monster being more a symbol for our repressed demons than anything else. But what do we get here? It’s a goddamn abysmal rehash that doesn’t even try. It doesn’t try at all, and I don’t care what excuses people make for it, it doesn’t try and its hack director Samuel Bayer is clearly just going through the motions here to rape this creative property and collect the rewards later on with a career built around our easy dollars.
And Wes Craven is partly to blame for selling this character down the river for a quick buck, yet another reason why my disgust for the man grows. “Nightmare” is a remake that manages to water down the source material in both gore and sheer intelligence. It takes the ideas, the iconography, and the symbolism by the throat and just destroys it in a hail of quick cuts and fancy cinematography used to lull us in a state of apathy. The original film relied on our dreams to form a scope of sheer terror where Freddy reigned. This allowed us to question what was reality and was just Freddy’s sick warped games that ensured utterly horrific deaths for every character involved that signified their own personal fears and anxieties. Take for example when Nancy sees Tina’s body being dragged in to the halls of her school. Is that the dream realm leaking in to reality? Or vice versa?
Here there is no play on our perceptions of what is our mind and what is flesh and bone, it’s just there and it’s over and the writers never even try to open up the dream world to allow us to stretch our comfort zone and sit on the edge of our seats wondering what is the sub-conscious and what is true? Here even Freddy is just Jason with clunky dialogue who has no imagination or charisma that boils down to zingers like “Remember me?” and “I am now.” Who knew demons spoke in short hand? His kills are conventional and boring and the rest of his new mold is based around how many times he can pop up and shock the audience for an instant and never quite making as much of an impact on them as the character has the potential to. I mean the film’s preamble revolves around Freddy forcing a character to slit his own throat in his dreams, and nothing more. The script wants us to believe this Freddy is a sick demented individual, but he looks bored most of the time and just going through the motions to kill these people.
He takes no zeal or lust toward their torment like he did in the original, so the audience will never feel uneasy about his presence. The characters (whom we’re told are in high school but look to at least be approaching thirty) are all one dimensional drones just crashing in to one another and never quite displaying any sense of depth or complexities, especially Nancy who went from an innocent girl pushed in to a humongous ordeal now a stale cardboard cut out who just can’t figure how to stop Freddy without being told over and over. But she’s deep and complex because she paints. Such masterful strokes of characterization only worthy of a Platinum Dunes film. As for Haley I won’t cut him slack. He’s a strong actor who takes up an iconic role and does nothing for him beside collect a paycheck and recite really terrible lines meant to intimidate but manage to elicit collective yawns and eye rolls from the crowds. Why does Freddy have claws again? What does the boiler room represent?
What are the gaping children supposed to signify again? Why does he have a beacon signaling his presence if he rules the dream world? And how does he turn a place like a restaurant in to an element of sheer monumental horror? Why again do none of the characters actually remember Freddy Krueger? And how did the token minority character upload and post his last video if he was killed while making it? Either way when the film continued I was bored and listless and when it ended I moved on and wondered why the art of pure storytelling went to the wayside a long time ago. With Platinum Dunes on the fast track of a “Monster Squad” remake this is a surefire indicator that they’re going to butcher yet another childhood memory and horror fans will gladly pony up the dough to see it unfold. Neo-“Nightmare” is a film that shows they’re not even attempting creativity because with horror fans lowering their standards more and more, why should they even try?