Sunday, 16 May 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

'One, two...Freddy's coming for you...' So went the chilling rhyme for one of cinema's most iconic boogeyman, Freddy Kruger, back in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street. Boasting an unusually classy literary quality in its focus on a dream-invading serial killer, Wes Craven's original arguably had, and still has the brains to back up the familiar blood and guts quotient.

Which immediately puts its 2010 remake in an unfavourable position. After all, why remake something that is as potent and dramatically satisfying now as it was when first released? The answer is, inevitably, commerce: it’s the latest in a long line of remakes from Michael Bay’s hack label Platinum Dunes, one which has seen Texas Chainsaw and Friday the Thirteenth get a going over. None are especially badly made…but neither are they made with a sense of artistic integrity.

The cast, all of whom look like rejects from The O.C, are as glossy and forgettable as all other aspects of the narrative, one which frustratingly fails to move the story in new directions. Although there’s a degree of unpredictability in who will be dispatched next, the reliance on jump scares robs it of any dramatic tension, as does the frequent cheating taken in hallucination scenes that put Freddy on-screen too often.

This of course was why Craven’s original was so terrifying, boasting a kind of fairy tale unpredictability that saw Robert Englund’s Kruger sealed as a horror icon for the ages. With Samuel Bayer at the helm, it sinks into a series of queasily lit, slick set pieces familiar from the Platinum Dunes oeuvre. It’s perfectly competent but uninspired. Likewise Earle Haley’s is certainly more sadistic than Englund’s interpretation but remains planted as a dimension bending thug, lacking the appealing razor wit of old.

The sharpest deviation from Craven’s formula is the literal minded approach to its central villain. In today’s age, the word ‘subtext’ may as well be in Latin; now, a formerly cryptic, mysterious monster is transformed into something more distasteful and archetypal, a change that both bores and reviles in its presentation. Someone should explain to today’s horror filmmakers that less is always more.

No comments:

Post a Comment