Thursday, May 6, 2010

Movie Review: Nightmare on Elm Street

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a dish that you really liked? Duh, of course you have. So let's say, hypothetically, that you go to a Mexican restaurant and have a delicious chimichanga. Sure, it's kind of cheesy, but you appreciate the ingenious idea of deep-frying a burrito. And who are you kidding, you like the cheese too, even if it's not good for you. Then, you read in the newspaper that the restaurant is coming out with a newer, sexier, more modern version of the chimichanga. You're so excited you can barely wait to get to the restaurant. The chimichanga was so genius, how could this go wrong?!? When you go, you order the remade chimichanga, only to find that there's very little cheese and instead of being filled with grilled chicken or beef, it's filled with rotting baby diarrhea.


Let me begin by describing why the original Nightmare on Elm Street was so ROFLawesome and then I'll talk about why the new one is terrible. The first one is great because the concept was fucking genius AND it was executed well. I mean, you have to give Wes Craven a good deal of credit for coming up with the idea of a murderer who kills people in their dreams. Everyone has nightmares! Rich people! Poor people! Stupid people! Ponies! Everyone. So immediately everyone can relate to this concept on some level. Here's how the movie brainstorming for the original went:

Wes: Hey, let's have a murderer kill people in their sleep!

Studio Dude: Wow, that's a really great idea. However, how can we make this terrifying and still have a good story structure?

Wes: Well, since the idea of a dream killer is a bit fantastical, let's have the protagonist try desperately to stay awake. As the madness of insomnia sets in, there will be a subtle uncertainty as to whether or not the events of the movie are really happening, or if they're merely a byproduct of our character's unraveling imagination. As the character deduces what is happening, we should have other tertiary characters constantly question our protagonist's sanity.

Studio Dude: Nice. Hopefully we won't have to work too hard to create a frightening atmosphere. We'll make the audience invested in our main character, so most of the fear comes from not wanting her to fall asleep. It would probably bastardize everything we've worked to build if we let this movie devolve into a lazy, one-note slasher movie, where we're interested in making loud noises to scare the audience.

Wes: Word.

Yeah, so the original Nightmare had good plot development and the movie was much more disgusting and unsettling that this new cock-show. Freddy was more interested in creating a haunting dream environment and psychologically scarring our heroes. New Freddy likes to jump out of nowhere and make noises. Not necessary.

Well, let's play out the conversation that went into planning the new Nightmare.


Exec 2: Don't we all. How can we make it?

Exec 1: Duh let's totes remake Nightmare on Elm Street. We've remade everything else, why not remake this one.

Exec 2: Aiight, but modern audiences are more cynical. If we have a nightmarish dream murder villain, we should really spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to figure out who he is, why he is a killer, and how deeply he is connected to our main character. That way, our audience will buy it.

Exec 1: Um, that in now way explains how he's able to kill people in their dreams, just why he's a killer. I feel like you're not solving the problem.

Exec 2: MONEY.

Exec 1: SOLD. Let's do this.

Exec 2: Just to be clear, we're going to take all of the unsettling atmosphere of the original and replace it with unnecessary back story and really cheap, lazy scares.

Exec 1: Yeah, and let's not even try to get the audience to care about the characters. OOOOH ANOTHER IDEA! Let's do a dream sequence every three minutes. Scare scare scare scare scare scare. That way we won't have to hire a good plot screenwriter AND it'll make it easier to avoid character development. We can also make a lot of the dreams look just like real life, so Freddy can just pop out and scare people randomly! Fuck you, nightmare concept. Fuck you. Money.

Exec 2: In fact, let's invoke some bullshit scenario where people can dream without even falling asleep so Freddy can pop out at any time!!! Nothing that worked about the original will be in our movie!! The audience won't even care that our characters could fall asleep because THEY'RE SLEEPING ALREADY!!

I think you get my point. The new movie basically shat on everything that was good about the original, just for the sake of my money. By the way, here's the Elm Street Poster:

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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