Thursday, October 29, 2015
One rainy night at the Springwood Diner, teenager Dean Russell has the latest in a series of disturbing nightmares about a horribly burned man wearing a glove with blades on the fingers, an attack that leaves him with an actual cut on his hand in reality. When his girlfriend, Kris, meets up with him there and he tells her about the dreams, he falls asleep again and is attacked by the man, who cuts his throat with a knife in his own hand, making it look as if he killed himself. At Dean's funeral, Kris sees a photo in the memorial of the two of them as children, even though she can't remember ever having known him before high school. Her ex-boyfriend, Jesse, tries to comfort her but doesn't believe what she tells him about how Dean died and while her friend, Nancy, says that she believes her, hinting that she's been having scary dreams herself, Jesse tells her to not say anything to Kris. Kris begins having nightmares about the same man, which frighten her to the point where she's afraid to go to sleep for fear that she might actually die. When he she's left home alone when her mother goes out of town on business, Jesse, who reveals that he's been dreaming about the man too, stays over with her, but when Kris falls asleep, she's gutted horribly. Covered in her blood, Jesse runs out of the house, tripping the security alarm, and goes to Nancy, telling her that he didn't kill Kris and learning that's she been having the same dreams, which involve a preschool and a nursery rhyme that names the man as Freddy. Jesse is arrested and charged with Kris' murder and, despite his attempts to stay awake, falls asleep and is killed by Freddy. As Nancy begins having nightmares, and suspects that her mother is hiding something, she and another boy, Quentin, look into their past and learn that the two of them, as well as Jesse, Kris, and Dean, all went to the same preschool together. They also learn about Fred Krueger, a gardener at the school who loved the kids, especially Nancy, but was said to have been sexually abusing them. Nancy's mother claims that Krueger skipped town before they could confront him with the allegations and that the nightmares are nothing more than repressed memories but Nancy feels that's not the whole story. While she discovers that all of the other kids from the preschool have been killed recently as well, Quentin has a dream where he sees their parents hunt Krueger down and burn him alive. With there being no concrete evidence that he did abuse the kids other than what they themselves said, Nancy and Quentin feel that they killed an innocent man and that he's getting revenge by killing them. They decide to find the preschool, since the dreams of the other kids involved Freddy trying to lead them down into the basement to find something, but with their insomnia causing them to dream even while they're awake, they're running out of time and might not wake up the next time they sleep.
Every time I hear the people behind Platinum Dunes and others who have remade beloved horror films talk about what their intentions were behind doing them, I just roll my eyes because it's so obvious that they're full of crap. It's always the same stuff: "This is a fresh take that will appeal to both lifelong fans as well as the new generation," "We're trying to honor the original while giving audiences something different," and, "We're updating it for a new generation, with a new spin on the character and story." However you word it, it's always the same and it almost never works. Teeny-bopper kids may get something out of it but it won't appeal to the old-time fans, who will more than likely feel like the movies that they've loved for so long are being butchered. Incidentally, when and why did sequels suddenly become so taboo? One of the producers of this film said something along the lines that in good conscience, he couldn't do a movie that was yet another sequel to the original series, to which I ask, "Why?" Is it because you're going to have someone else playing Freddy? Freddy is an undead character, meaning that he's ageless, so there's nothing stopping you from doing a sequel that just happens to have someone else playing the role. Actors may age and have to be replaced, but characters like this are forever and don't need to be reinvented or have their origin retold unless it's absolutely necessary. They just don't want to come out and give the real reason why these remakes are done: these characters make money and they're too lazy to come up with a new story for them, so they just decide to remake the original movies and take elements from them and some of the sequels to try to placate the fans, which only succeeds in reminding us of other, much better movies that we could be watching instead (I'll have a lot to say about that later). That's probably why Platinum Dunes have very rarely ever done a sequel to their remakes, because then they'd have to come up with something original. As I've said, I do like some of the movies they've made, it's just that their way of side-stepping the real issue in a BS way that they seem to believe people will swallow makes my stomach churn.
Like all of the Platinum Dunes remakes, the score is by Steve Jablonsky, who contributes what has to be some of his blandest work ever. I really like his score for the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the prequel to that film, both of which I can easily think of in my head, and the same goes for the majority of his score for the 2009 Friday the 13th, but I can barely remember anything he did for A Nightmare on Elm Street. For one, he never uses any semblance of the melody that Charles Bernstein created and you hear only a little bit of the opening music from the original movie when you see the title. The nursery rhyme is used but not very much (you only heard it actually sung by the kids twice in the original, though), meaning that 99.5% of it is all original material that Jablonsky came up and it's mainly very generic and forgettable, often little more than dreary, droning underscoring, with occasional loud pieces to make you jump and to accompany some of the more "exciting" moments. I remember bits of the kind of eerie, childlike them that plays over the opening credits but I'll be damned if I can remember anything else, even the music that you hear when they find the photos and when it's wrapping up at the end that, when I was rewatching the movie, I didn't think sounded that bad. The only really memorable musical part of the movie for me is the use of All I Have to Do is Dream by the Everly Brothers, a song that I'm surprised was never used in any of the previous movies. It's interesting how, as sweet and romantic as that song is, the lyrics can easily be applied to the concept of Freddy Krueger, making it surprisingly effective. Too bad it couldn't have been one of the really good movies because it's wasted on this trash.
As for what the future holds for Freddy, there were supposed to be at least two sequels to this movie, both with Jackie Earle Haley returning, but even though this film did make money (according to Wikipedia, if you count worldwide gross, it's the most successful film in the franchise, just above Freddy vs. Jason), the negative reception from both critics and fans made them scrap that idea. It probably wasn't helped when Rooney Mara, who was supposed to be in at least one of the sequels, said that she hated being in this movie so much that she almost quit acting altogether. Recently, there have been rumors of another remake, this time with a completely CGI Freddy (oh, goody) and Robert Englund has also said that he might put on the glove again for a crossover with the Halloween franchise. Honestly, though, if this is the best they can do nowadays, then maybe it's better if the series is just laid to rest. Unless they can give a new actor a really good breakthrough movie in the role and offer more respect for what Wes Craven created, we should probably just move on and stop trying to relive this franchise's glory days, which have long since passed. The movies will always be there to watch and I'm personally content to settle for it being that way rather than have the name be dragged through the mud any more than this movie already has. But, as always, we'll just have to see. For now, take care everyone. Have a happy Halloween and, of course, sleep tight and pleasant dreams.