Déjà Reboot: A Nightmare on Elm Street

As a fan of the horror genre (a genre that has been most frequently victimized by the age of remakes), I can say that remakes aren’t always bad. Of course there are some exceptions, but in the recent tradition of Hollywood, making a quick dime is what’s really important, so why not churn out some cheap-budget version of a cult classic horror flick in order to turn a decent profit?  That’s exactly what they’ve been doing…for years. So with a respectful nod to the hot commodity that has been the horror remake, I bring you “Deja Reboot” – The “Nightmare” edition.

When A Nightmare on Elm Street was first released in 1984, the film’s villain Freddy Krueger struck fear in audiences around the nation. It contained an original story that hadn’t been seen before and a new kind of villain that could physically torture and kill you in your dreams. Director Wes Craven was genius to bring this new twist of horror to life. Not to mention Robert Englund made a very terrifying Freddy Krueger. What made the original so terrifying is that we’d never seen a villain like Freddy before. When we think of sleeping, we think of being at peace, a time to ultimately relax and let go of all of our worries. However, this film takes that away from us. Craven took a peaceful function of the human body and made it a place to be feared. On top of that, “Nightmare” also presented a cast of relatable characters, as well as a compellingly complex villain in Freddy.

The "Nightmare" Reboot
The “Nightmare” Reboot

The remake was a semi-faithful adaptation in the visual sense, but it tried to tie up loose ends that might not have been made clear in the original. In other words, there was an abundance of exposition. Exposition is good; over-exposition is bad. The story behind Freddy in the original is that he was a child rapist whom parents of the town hunted down. In this case, it was Nancy’s mom describing to us what had happened, which explains why Freddy is trying to kill Nancy (our heroine). However, it is not made clear why he is killing her friends. The remake takes it one step further by trying to connect all of the characters in order to explain why Freddy wants to kill them all.

Here is where the reboot fails. It tries to take an original story and add so much that it ends up getting muddy. There is no sense of mystery. In the original, Freddy’s face is kept mostly in the shadows until the end of the film. This makes Freddy’s character all the more frightening. There’s something truly terrifying in not knowing what you’re being chased by.  However, in the remake, Freddy is completely exposed. There is no attempt to hide his mangled features in order to taunt the audience. Not to mention the “new” Freddy did not look nearly as frightening. He looked far more like an animal.

All in all, while the reboot may not have been quite as bad as one might have expected, with a mostly-entertaining cast and an interesting style, the original trumps it in the most important category (i.e. being a scary horror movie).

Patrick Lehe

Originally from Indiana, Lehe moved to Los Angeles 2 years ago to pursue a career in screenwriting. Since relocating to the "Left Coast," Lehe has worked at a production company, a talent agency and now an entertainment law firm, all while building a network of industry connections.