Platinum Dunes is an unholy entity shepherded by a wicked being that thrives on the disappointment of others. Their modus operandi is ostensibly to update classic horror franchises in a way that manages to strip them of every element that made the original enjoyable and unique. They are nothing more than a vehicle used to capitalize on a popular franchise while single-handedly dumbing down American cinema. Now, this is not to say that these movies don't provide a modicum of entertainment. In between the myriad of bad parts are one or two shining moments, enough to keep the viewer relatively entertained. A perfect example of this is last year's Friday the 13th redux. By no means was it a good outing, but it had some unique kills and possessed a modicum of depth. Unfortunately, we're given no such respite from A Nightmare on Elm Street, a movie that is such a chore to sit and watch, a meeting with Freddy in the dreamworld seems like a better alternative.

Central to the film's utter failure is a weak script, which attempts to give a back story to a character that is wholly undeserving of one. We find an attempt to humanize Freddy Krueger, updating him for a generation where one of the biggest dangers threatening our children every day is pedophilia; the kindly old man who works in your school or your innocuous next door neighbor is anything but, and instead of logic and reason prevailing you hunt them down and burn them alive. While this certainly doesn't serve as a justification for Krueger's actions, they must certainly operate on a different level than a child murderer (and supposed pedophile), especially when it's revealed why the parent's did what they did. Attempting to humanize pre-burned Freddy, if only for a brief moment, takes away from the character's overall impact. This of course brings us to the crux of the matter: how did Jackie Earl Haley do as Freddy Krueger?

Platinum Dunes' incarnation of Freddy is indeed more realistic than Craven's, placing emphasis on charred flesh and the overall asymmetry of his face that typically accompanies being engulfed in flames; unfortunately, when this is combined with his one-liners and the fact that Earl Haley channeled Rorshach for this role, almost every on-screen instance of Krueger is utterly comical. Think Christian Bale's Batman but far more sinister. In a movie bogged down with paper thin characters, a flimsy back story and just flat out lazy writing, it's sad to see the primary antagonist of the film as a grossly overused caricature of the character brought to life by Robert Englund. Part of the charm of and one of the main reasons the original was so scary was that Krueger was a prototypical boogie man, an unspeakable being that haunted your nightmares and went bump in the night. His on screen time was relegated primarily to the end of the film or quick glimpses throughout, while Bayer's vision places him front and center. This could have been well and good, if it weren't for the fact that much of this was seemingly due to Bayer's love for the jump scare, which is ubiquitous throughout the film.

The rest of the cast didn't fare any better, an unfortunate consequence of the horrible script and dialogue. Every single teenager lacked any sort of emotional depth that could conceivably make you give a damn about their ultimate fate, especially Nancy, who is so utterly devoid of emotion she almost seems bored. Most of their dialogue is relegated to brief affirmations of their sanity, while the continuing realization that they're being stalked by a madman in the one place you're supposed to be safe is more or less met with a blaise attitude reminiscent at times of Alison Lohman's performance in Drag Me to Hell. The fear is present, but it's shrouded in a mask of relative indifference brought about by the simple fact that they know what's causing them harm. This doesn't make it any less real, but no one told them that. Each encounter with Freddy, especially when the women are involved, is stripped of emotion and met with confusion and a dulled sense of fear.

Attempts to capture the magic and fear of the original through the recreation of iconic scenes fail miserably, due in no small part to less than stellar CGI and a complete lack of imagination (Freddy emerging from the wallpaper above Nancy's bed elicited a hearty laugh due to the added detail of his face). They're quick and forgettable. Beyond this, the main draw of Craven's classic is how disturbing it was at heart. While Freddy is made more comical in later installments of the franchise, he is more or less an unseen force in the first, making brief appearances to dispatch the teenagers until the very end when he goes up against Nancy. This allows for a level of suspense that is anathema to Platinum Dunes, who instead prefer to throw Freddy right in your face. The same thing was done with their Texas Chainsaw Massacre, eschewing tension in favor for ample amounts of gore, which was conspicuously absent in the original. As a result, everything that made the original films so unique and downright frightening is gone. The end result is just a horrible, horrible film.
categories Reviews, Horror