The Nightmare on Elm Street remake is the best Freddy movie in 20 years. It’s better than the last four sequels. That might not be the kind of ringing endorsement the studio wants, but that puts it in the top half for the franchise. Not bad for a remake.
Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street
I actually prefer to consider this Nightmare 9 rather than a remake. It could just be the next sequel, and there happens to be some other girl named Nancy. She definitely has a different last name. Even the changes to Freddy’s backstory are no more contradictory than Freddy’s Dead, so this is just Nightmare 9 and you can believe this is the real backstory they never told you before, not that nonsense about the three flying heads.
It’s got all the elements I like from the best of the series. The Springwood Diner feels unsettling. It’s just a little bit off. The kids put all the creepy pieces of the story together in spite of the parents’ cover-up, from their baby photos to torn childhood artifacts.
I like the new dreams and I like Freddy’s game he’s playing with the kids. It feels more like the dreams happen in the bigger world, not just a contained setup that they could produce on a budget. The surreal idea of your past self visiting you in a dream is cool. The visual of going in and out of a dream is great, and very relatable to me on certain days.
The big question of Freddy’s backstory is addressed. They don’t come right out and say the P word, but they clearly speak the language of abuse. That’s more than we’ve ever gotten before and it’s enough for me to have them talk about it without directly saying this is what it is. I don’t think Freddy is necessarily scarier, but he’s creepier. Both context and performance reframe him and perhaps that’s what makes this Nightmare a new entity.
I was surprised just how many references they made to the original series, considering they were so adamant about distancing this remake. I mean, not just classic kills from the Wes Craven movie, but verbatim lines from the sequels.
Freddy still taunts his victims. I like full on funny Freddy. I was never worried about the reality of a killer in your dreams, so he might as well be entertaining. The taunts take on a creepier context in this version but he still has one-liners, including aforementioned quotes from the maligned “funny” sequels. Surprising, considering they wanted to distance themselves, but as a fan of the series I was happy to hear them.
There are hints of new ideas that put the mythology in a different context. At first, Freddy covers his tracks making dream kills look like suicides. Not that dream Freddy has to worry about legal repercussions, but that makes real life even harder for the kids than just staying awake. Modern technology provides some new references to sleep that weren’t invented yet in the original series. Plus, all kids are on medication these days so caffeine pills would just be quaint.
Apparently, women today sleep in much less clothing than they did in the ‘80s. Maybe bedrooms are hotter these days. It must be global warming.
The thing that makes Nightmare on Elm Street feel the most modern is that it’s all whispery. This is the remake that comes in the post-24 world where really intense characters talk in a loud whisper.
The CGI effects suck, especially the ones “reimagining” classic kills. A CGI wall press? It looked good when it was practical. Now it looks like Clash of the Titans. The ceiling kill definitely does not look as good as when they did it old school. It’s quicker, less dramatic, bloodier and faker.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is less of a re-invention than just a 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street sequel. It does the things the franchise would do with today’s trappings. Everyone’s so against the sequels. I like them, so this works for me. Maybe you won’t like it.