If you are going to remake an iconic film, you must have a legitimate reason to do so. Just because it already has a popular fan base can’t be enough of a reason. Neither is the fact that the film franchise has clearly been sequelled into oblivion. I’d say that is the reason to reboot a series.
There is a difference. Its subtle but there is definitely some distinction between the two. A remake is retelling a story with slight changes. The main concept and narrative strand is the same but you may change elements, like developing a characters back-story or changing their motivation. Maybe changing the location or adding/taking away scenes. You can guess where the story is going because you may already be familiar with it but the point is to put a new spin on a film or story that is already well-known.
A reboot is when you take a character or franchise and begin it again. You may have to keep some of the same origin elements or character traits but the story can be brand new. The best examples of this are Batman and Bond. These weren’t remakes but brand new (for the most part) stories which revamped a well-known character.
It strikes me that this is clearly the way that A Nightmare on Elm Street should have gone. A reboot was the way forward, taking the very well-known character of Freddie Kruger but telling a brand new story. You could keep the same elements of the character, the burnt face, the razor-fingered glove and killing through nightmares but in new, inventive and creative ways.
Instead, the people behind the newest version of A Nightmare on Elm Street decided to make a lazy remake. Remakes aren’t necessarily a bad thing but a lazy one is the worst kind of remake because there is nothing new to gain from it. Making a practically scene for scene remake or at least recreating the most memorable aspects of a previous film, just lacks any real creativity and feels pointless.
When it comes to A Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s even more frustrating because the deaths and the nightmares are so key to the plot and the character itself that this is where you could use some creative freedom. To recreate or borrow from the older version for the dream sequences feels like a missed opportunity.
It’s a shame because there is plenty that is original and is rebooted. The look of the Freddie Kruger is great and a lot scarier than the original version. Jackie Earle Haley is a brilliant choice as Freddie and he manages to a great job of bringing the character back to a terrifying prospect rather than a wise-cracking, comical villain that you love to hate.
To flesh out the back story and show the origins of the character is also a great idea. It adds slightly more depth to Freddie Kruger than there ever was and teasing some elements of his character as misunderstandings or red herrings is also a great way to take the audience away from their preconceptions of a well-known character.
Unfortunately, these aren’t enough to drag the film away from its original. It’s too similar to what has gone before. The film has got to appeal to two types of people; the fans of the series who will want to see a new, reinvigorated Freddie Kruger in a brand new story and the people unfamiliar with the character who are going to want to be truly scared. This film won’t appeal to either. It’s not a new story, even if Kruger has got a decent revamp and it’s certainly not scary enough or shocking enough alongside the gory Saw franchise or the scare/shockfest Paranormal Activity films.
Overall, A Nightmare on Elm Street is an example of how not to remake a film. Remaking a film is good if you can add something new or different to the familiar tale but this version of the film doesn’t do enough to distinguish it from its 1984 counterpart. Freddie Kruger is suitably revamped and a lot scarier but the film as a whole even fails to terrify like the original would have back in the 80s.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)