Tuesday, January 12, 2010

J.T.'s "Scary Shit I Need To See In 2010" list: A Nightmare On Elm Street

If I told you that I wasn't worried about this reboot of this beloved horror franchise, I'd be lying to you.

The menace that Jackie Earle Haley brought to Rorschach in The Watchmen makes me feel confident that there is no better choice than him to bring the malice of Freddy Krueger to a new generation.

The things that bother me are the other intangibles surrounding the new film.

As you probably remember from the original movies, Freddy Krueger is the ghost of a child murdering serial killer who was burned alive by an angry mob of parents that lived on the titular address in question. In the usual manner befitting a revenant, Freddy's evil was so strong that he transcended death and set out on a vengeful campaign to vent his wrath out upon the parents of Elm Street by murdering their offspring.

Suffer the little children, indeed.

The Elm Street franchise jumped the proverbial shark when the producers forgot what made Freddy scary, and that was the fact that Freddy was a villain to be feared and reviled. Once Krueger became a wisecracking anti-hero and his victims became the cardboard cut-outs you'd find in the usual slasher franchise, the Elm Street franchise lost its luster.

Flash forward to 2010, and you'll note that the potential plot driver for the new franchise is that Freddy returns from the grave to claim the lives of the children of Elm Street because he was wrongly accused of being a child killer and subsequently burned alive by the aforementioned angry mob.

Perhaps it is me splitting hairs, but I think I preferred it when Freddy's despicable nature was clear and tangible. I think it is unnecessary to bring any sentiment of sympathy to Freddy's fate, just as I thought it was unnecessary in the Halloween reboot for Rob Zombie to humanize Michael Myers with a tragic backstory.

If that weren't bad enough, the plan for the character of Nancy (up there with Van Helsing and Dr. Loomis in the halls of horror film hero icons) is to transform her from the All-American girl wrestling with the sins of her parents to some gothic social outcast on the lower rungs of the high school social ladder charged with saving the lives of peers she probably wishes were dead anyway.

I really don't see why it is imperative that both Nancy and Freddy be "misunderstood," but that seems to be what the kids want these days. I personally liked it better when Nancy was the apple pie "everyman" stoically confronting an immortal evil with bravery and dignity, while Freddy was the murdering bastard that was omni-present and undying.

We will see if the proposed changes for the reboot work out for the better when this film drops sometime around April.

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