Why the “Nightmare on Elm Street” Remake Deserves More Credit

Horror fans seemed to be all the more skeptical when it came to the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Sure we had already seen the likes of Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers get the remake treatment.

And while these weren’t without their backlash (particularly Rob Zombie’s Halloween), none were so dreaded by the horror community as the “re-imagining” of their beloved Freddy Krueger. And to be fair, it’s not without merit.

The other aforementioned slasher villains are silent, masked killers that were always played by stuntmen, and always different sequel after sequel. Freddy was sacred in that he was always played by Robert Englund, and his dialogue and personality made him who he was.

For many fans, Jackie Earle Haley was simply #NotMyFreddy

But did we judge the remake too harshly? Did we automatically decide that we hated it because we were so outraged that they would dare recast a character as iconic as Freddy Krueger?

So on the 10th anniversary of this despised remake, we thought it would be a good opportunity to take a retrospective look back at 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, and see if perhaps it deserves more credit than it gets:

Getting the Tone Right
While we all adore Englund’s Freddy Krueger, we also all know that by the time we got to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, the character had fully become a parody of his former self.

The sadistic dream demon we meet in the original friend is “Fred” Krueger, and he’s not really cracking too many jokes.

His dark sense of humor became more prevalent as the sequels went on, and as much as audiences loved him, it was difficult to take him seriously anymore as a threat.

During his interview for Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments, Eli Roth even remarked that Freddy is really only scary to kids under 10 and that to anyone 15 and over, he’s more a source of comedy.

The remake sought to remedy this by going for all out, serious horror, and in many ways it succeeds. Its tone and atmosphere are legitimately creepy and unsettling.

We have to give props to the production design, which really helps to set that tone and mood!

And there are even a few great scares along the way. If we simply judge the movie on its own, and forget the rest of the franchise, it would hold up as a decent piece of supernatural horror.

Controversial Roots
(Warning: Contains Sensitive Material)
Long before Freddy was stalking kids in their dreams and killing them via supernatural means, he was an incredibly evil human being. The 1984 original continuously refers to Krueger as a “child murderer” and doesn’t really elaborate any further.

In the original script however, Krueger was a child molester, but there had been a recent, high-profile case of child molestation in California. And Wes Craven felt it a bit too close to home and even exploitative to reference that.

So molester was changed to murderer. The remake however, demonstrates Freddy as the true despicable being that he was, and gives a stronger connection between him and the children of Elm Street, particularly Nancy.

Seeing Freddy alive snooping around young Nancy is far more disturbing than any of the supernatural elements.

It makes Freddy even more evil, and presents a stronger motivation for his vengeance from beyond the grave. He wasn’t just angry about the parents burning him alive, he was angry at the children for revealing the heinously inappropriate things he had done to them.

A Noble Effort
Now for the most controversial point of all. We’re not suggesting in any way that Jackie Earle Haley was a better Freddy than Robert Englund, just that he brought a grit and gravitas to the role that is worthy of praise.

His Freddy Krueger didn’t quite have the sense of humor, but he was a menacing presence. His less overt and over-the-top performance made him seem more grounded and realistic, which in a way is even scarier.

One of the biggest issues with Haley’s Krueger was the overuse of CGI to create his face, but we can’t blame the actor himself for it.

Especially in the flashbacks where he’s human, we get the sense that his sick and disgusting actions towards children felt justified in his own mind. And that’s a level of development that we never really get from Robert Englund.

He’ll still of course always be the one and only Freddy, but Haley (and this film) deserve just a tiny bit of recognition.

It may not be the iconic classic the original film is. But it’s certainly not the piece of garbage that so many people discount it as!

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One thought on “Why the “Nightmare on Elm Street” Remake Deserves More Credit

  1. I agree with this take. I have long held the opinion that the remakes version of Krueger was grounded very close to the original spirit if the character. It also happens to be the weakness of the remake. In many ways the remake fails because they lacked the strength of their convictions in making Freddy a molester. The alternate ending bares this out. By changing the ending at the last minute, the executive producers and even the studio (whoever made the final decision) shows they misunderstood they’re own monster. The real monster was never Krueger the dream demon, but Krueger the man. The alternate ending could have made the remake so much more powerful and poignant for our day with victims reclaiming power over their preparator. Anyway. Thank you for the article

    Like

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