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Saturday, May 1, 2010

He's back and yes, he's that bad! (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)


A Nightmare on Elm Street remake was inevitable. If you've seen the original, you'll remember some of the memorably dated special-effects and outfits. For all its failings, Wes Craven's film remains a deeply disturbing, and surreal look at fear at its most intimate and primal. Fred Kruegger is not just a horror icon; he is a modern archetype of evil, and part of the American mythological landscape just as much as John Wayne, or James Dean.

The remake is a film propelled entirely by its storyline. This is a surprising fact, given our recent cinematic horror shows which refuse to do little more than disclose obscene acts of torture for our fevered perusal. A Nightmare on Elm Street continues to demand the audience's attention. This is not to say that there isn't a copious amount of bloodshed, there is, but the film does sacrifice some carnage for the plot. Critics are already railing against the acting, but then again, there weren't any Oscar-worthy performances in the original, so this seems a mute point. The film is still "stylish," which seems to me to be a stock compliment bestowed by badgering critics these days upon films about which they have very little to say. For my part, I found the film's cinematic techniques to be functionalist at best. Everything is subordinated to the story, even the effects, and the inevitable blurring between dreams and reality.

The marketing strategy of the film was creative. Freddy's guilt is brought into question, which would have been a fairly radical change to introduce. We've yet to see the slasher vindicated for his crimes. Well, you won't see it here. As it turns out, Freddy really is that bad. His crimes are given a more wicked distinction because of the story's focus on pedophilia. Fred remains a portrayal of senseless wickedness in the face of child-like innocence. So, he's still that bad.

Though the film's story is altered slightly, it doesn't deviate much from Wes Craven's vision. The film's exploration of the collapsing wall between dreams and reality, as well as its near Freudian preoccupation with guilt set within the context of the child/parent relationship all remain. One memorable addition to this film is its focus on the consequences of revenge; the parents are held to a higher standard for their vigilantism, and the film joins the growing list of stories exploring the perils of taking the law into your own hands.

But, I'll say it again: Kruegger is still a bad guy, and in a world of multiplying Dexters I find that somewhat comforting.

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