So I cruise out to Veterans, pay for my ticket (only $5 for the first show of the day), pick up a couple of hotdogs, and a Coke. I could have sworn this theater was a Pepsi establishment. Mountain Dew is so much better for you than Coke. Ask anyone. I go to theater number 13 (!) and get a decent seat in the center of the place. After chowing on my dogs, my spirits sink when a family of 6 walks in. Mom, dad, and 4 kids ranging in ages from 7 to 12 arrive and make a big fucking noise. I'm a pretty cynical guy so I just assume that this is going to be one movie that will be totally ruined by a bunch of loud fuckwads. The movie starts and these kids are just constantly murmuring and whispering to each other.
I try to focus on the opening credits because I figure that eventually, these kids will be scared silly and that'll be the end of all the noise. Then a miracle happens. The first death scene occurs. (Trust me, you don't have to wait very long.) Someone's throat gets opened up and the family of 6 gets up and starts heading for the door. Everyone in the theater is laughing as these idiots who haven't been able to shut the fuck up since they set foot in the place are sent packing. After they left, things settled into a nice silence and the rest of us could enjoy the show.
If a horror fan is choosy, that horror fan can really score with remakes. For example, The Crazies - I'm sorry but that was just awesome. I'm fairly open minded with remakes. If a film is something that I can't imagine being improved with a remake, I check out the trailers/poster art and make my mind up as to whether or not I'll go see it. If it's a movie that I think could use a little touch-up or re-imagining, then I avoid as much press as I can and just go see the film as cold as possible. The new A Nightmare on Elm Street was definitely part of the first category. I was very, very skeptical. The original film is very important to me so I was a smirking jerk when I heard it was getting the millennial treatment.
I was pleasantly surprised by Nightmare. I only counted one ridiculously cheesy moment* (not counting the micro-naps) and a handful of overly sped up/CGI'ed effects. Logic and character development suffered a bit mostly because everything felt a little rushed. The running time could have gone about 5 or 10 minutes longer to slow things down a little. And coming from me, that's a compliment. There were also a few corny moments in the dialogue (enough with the micro-naps!) and some weak acting. I know this sounds like a lot but honestly, everything else was grand. When the new Nightmare does things right, it does them very right.
Jackie Earle Hailey (Watchmen, Shutter Island) is excellent as Freddy Krueger. He adds this twitchy and unpredictable quality to an already scary monster. The makeup is astounding and holds up very well, even in well-lit sequences. I love Rooney Mara as Nancy, our heroine. She is stunning to behold and a great actress. Former music video director, Samuel Bayer, takes the viewer to some creepy, disturbing, claustrophobic, and grimy places with this film. A Nightmare on Elm Street does not skimp on the blood and the surreal especially when dreams and reality start to collide. This won't ever replace the original film in the hearts of its fans but this is a worthy addition to the universe of Wes Craven's classic dream maniac.
Okay, now to get down to specifics. The cheesiest moment in the film is when Nancy is asleep in her bed and Freddy is pushing through the wall behind her as though it is made of rubber. This worked very well in the original film because it was a practical effect done right. This CGI shit looks so cheesy that all I could think of was The Frighteners. But you know what? It's not 1996! I think that sometimes revisiting iconic moments from the original can be where the remake shoots itself in the foot. The people who are new to the story are just going to see a stupid scene and wonder what the hell that was all about while people familiar with Freddy and his antics will just be annoyed. Nobody wins.
I like how the film focuses on Kris (Katie Cassidy) for a while and we start to settle in with this chick as our heroine. Then the rug is pulled out from under us when Freddy takes her out. I knew this was coming but it was still great. I loved the scene in the drugstore where Freddy is walking down the aisle terrorizing Nancy. Instead of a jump scare, we have horror casually but steadily coming right out of the world of dreams. And finally, at the end of the film, when Nancy pulls Freddy into the waking world and the showdown commences, I was on the edge of my seat. It all came together and it was very bad ass. Plus, we all learned once again just how deadly paper cutters can be.