Platinum Dunes. To you, these two words may mean nothing, they may just appear to be two random words strung together, but in the world of internet forums and discussion pages, these two words are the written equivalent of hearing the mindnumbing sound of four blades slowly being screeched down a chalkboard. You see, Platinum Dunes is the name of a much-hated film company started by Mr. Explosion himself, Michael Bay, which specialises in making modern day horror movies. As of yet, they have distributed the recent horrors The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hitcher, The Amityville Horror and Friday The 13th.
Now, just in case you can't all ready see why this film company is so widely detested across the interwebs, I'll tell you. All of these movies are remakes of well-respected, beloved horror classics. Because of this, their movies are, shall we say, mauled to death for daring to touch the much-loved originals. And now, Platinum Dunes has done it again, this time remaking the masterpiece that is Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street.
This remake's storyline is basically the same as the original, with a group of teenagers finding that they are experiencing similar dreams, all of which revolve around them being hunted by Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a heavily burned man wearing a red and green sweater and a blade-fingered glove on his right hand. In the opening scene, we see Dean (Kellan Lutz) in a diner, falling asleep and suffering a nightmare in which the burned stalker forces Dean to slit his own throat with a knife. However, not only does he die in the nightmare, he dies in reality as well.
After this unfortunate event, the local teenagers quickly realise that there is a scarred serial killer after them, taking them down one by one in their dreams. As time goes by, they try desperately to stay awake long enough to find out a way of killing Krueger before he butchers them in the dream world, but not drowsing off isn't as easy as it sounds.
The simple fact that this movie is a remake of Wes Craven's widely adored classic is enough of an excuse for many to try and bash the film over the head as much as they possibly can. I, however, disagree with these people, as a remake, in my opinion, was much needed. You see, the character of Freddy Krueger has become a joke over the years, with the several sequels that followed the original coming across as a parody of the iconic serial killer. With this, however, the tone of the movie is very serious, and although this can hold it back, it does show that the filmmakers aren't just larking around as the original sequels shamefully did.
Because of this, Haley's performance as Freddy is a different interpretation from what Robert Englund did with the original character. Haley's Freddy has a much darker nature to him, still taunting his victims, but lacking in the over-the-top humour which Englund's Freddy took on, which is what made his version so memorable. Still, I must say that Haley's performance is absolutely breathtaking. It's true, he cannot compete with Englund, but we still get a marvelously engaging and intimidating piece of acting from him. Without a doubt, Haley's performance is the best thing in this movie.
As for the rest of the cast, well, what is there to say? No one really struck me as all too memorable, which of course means that I didn't really care much for any of the characters. This is what many slasher or horror flicks can suffer from, as you are stuck with these characters who you know are gonna be killed off, yet you don't give two shits about them, thus taking away any tension. The only real tension in the movie is during the final dream sequence, with Freddy taunting one of the teenagers on a bed with his finger-knives, which is quite an anxious scene leading up to film's slightly anticlimactic finale.
Visually, the film is very strong, and has an incredibly cinematic feel to it. With the director Samuel Bayer being a music video director, he knows how to create striking images, which are a plenty in his version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, he has fucked up big time with one thing in this movie: the pacing.
Sweet holy Jesus, this film's pacing is horrendous. The first dream sequence with Dean comes up way, way too quickly after the opening titles sequence, and then after this, the dreams just do not stop coming. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, we have had about ten different dream sequences, and Freddy has appeared four times. Four fucking times! I love Haley's performance, but Christ, calm down! In the original, we only get a quick glimpse of Freddy to begin with, then we don't see him for ages, building up the tension. In the remake, he pops up every couple of scenes to say hi. Aaww, how sweet. Why they did this, I don't know.
Speaking of dream sequences, the nightmares in this movie leave much to be desired. The creativity is missing during some of these moments, not all of them, but most of them. In comparison with Wes Craven's original, the dream scenes really do not fair well and don't have the same effect as those of the 1984 version.
The film does try to recreate two dream sequences from the original, with one being the infamous Tina being dragged up the wall and across the ceiling, before having her belly slashed by Freddy's glove. In the remake, it's Kris (Katie Cassidy) who is lifted up into the air, thrown around the room, and has her belly torn open. The remake's version simply doesn't have the same impact as the original did. In the 1984 one, the image of Tina being dragged across the ceiling was seriously fucking creepy, but with Bayer's vision, this isn't so.
I know I'm comparing the original and the remake a lot, but Bayer had to have known this would have happened. I mean, when you film a remake of a classic such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, comparisons will no doubt be made, and this does hurt Bayer's movie. The campy, yet still horrific tone of Wes Craven's original is what made it work so well, but this campiness is substituted with a humourless, dark feel looming over the remake, an aid in the film's downfall. There is no time for comic relief, as there was to a certain extent in the original.
I had been anticipating this movie quite a bit, I was one of the few who loved the trailers, and it was quite upsetting when I saw how much of a disappointment the final product turned out to be. I certainly didn't hate the film, I did enjoy it and it held my interest for the most part, but the over-serious tone, unmemorable acting and excessive jumpscares do drag the film down. It's a visually striking film that could have easily been improved upon. This movie may not be a nightmare, but it's not exactly a dream either.