Remakes are always tricky efforts, and ones that, for good or ill, add a new level of expectations to the difficulties of film releases. Even apart from the obvious comparisons, there will be those who are opposed to a remake on principle, depending on the film. There may be low-budget, horror icon purists out there, but I don’t recall a lot of theoretical negative talk when A Nightmare on Elm Street began its marketing run, and there is probably good reason for that. If you’re going to give something (okay, everything) a new spin, the mid-80’s horror gem seems like a fairly worthy idea.
The High School butchery begins about as well as can be expected, unless you’re expecting something that tries to build purpose into producing a story you know everything about. We meet some teens, they meet Freddy, and after they start dropping like flies, they realize that they’re all dreaming about the same creepy guy with a striped sweater. You might expect I’m leading you into a discussion on the film being a lackluster, rote affair, but that would actually be an improvement.
We know what we’re getting ourselves into here, but director Samuel Bayer (of many music videos, no other films) is only moderately on board himself. Apparently a fan of the original to some extent or other, he (or at least this film) doesn’t truly get the original, or what made it good, insofar as positive qualities can be drawn from it.
I use that term “characters” rather loosely, because the film doesn’t actually have any. It instead has something more along the lines of “the things we’re looking at while transitioning through plot points,” and at least three people died before I had any indication who they were, and I was twice surprised to discover that the “main male High Schooler” was still alive.
We might chalk this up as simply yet another mediocre horror film, except that it is somewhat galling to think that so much of the work is already done here, and it is rendered useless anyway. Freddy did not become a cultural icon, whether the films are ultimately rather goofy or not, based on a lack of strong horror sensibilities. The tension and ability to unnerve are built right into a character that you can’t actually run away from. Here, there is at best a certain reminiscence to the experience, which is not without its value, but there isn’t anything remotely scary.
To be fair, turning to that component of the film that is simply a revisit, there is a somewhat interesting effort to “flesh out” (ha) Freddy, by having our teens poke around at the story that has led to their torment. That this “investigative” aspect exists speaks to an understanding of today’s audiences (even if it makes the film no better), yet feels very much like a sort homage/honorific, which makes for a nice spin.
All that aside, and coming clean with the idea that I’m not sure who the target audience is really meant to be, it is at least fair to say that those seeking out this film in the first place (and with an adult beverage or two in them… and in a group) are fairly likely to have a good time, one way or another. Also, in the effort to find positives wherever possible, Jackie Earl Haley and Clancy Brown picked up checks, and I’ll suffer just about anything if I can say that.
The release comes to you without much in the way of bonuses, which probably isn’t all that surprising. Certain films don’t overly lend themselves to the idea. You get an alternate opening and ending, both of which are probably improvements, and an additional scene.
Beyond that, you get Freddy Krueger Reborn, a featurette which gives you the producers, director, and other members of the production team describing their vision for the film, and why they love Freddy. The vast majority of viewers are (I predict) going to find this more comic entertainment than anything else, as the producers detail the ideas and theories they believe make the film great… you be the judge.
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download Now! http://bit.ly/nightfb
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