Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Website!

I've created a website for my future arts writing. The Lone Wolf Movie Review archives have been moved there. The new website address is

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

What scares you? The makers of the new reimagining of Wes Craven's 1984 horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street have made their best guess and released the newest tale of boogeyman Freddy Krueger to haunt audiences everywhere.

The supernatural back-story remains mostly faithful to the original movie. A neighborhood of parents take to vigilante justice and murder the man who has been hurting their children. The man returns from the dead when the children have grown up and uses his power over their dreams to murder them as revenge against the parents of Elm street. It is up to Nancy Holbrook and her friends to deduce Krueger's motivations and to stop him before he is able to mutilate and murder all of them on his bedtime killing spree.

Like other recent remakes of classic horror franchises including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street focuses itself squarely on the film's iconic antagonist and ignores the elements that made the movie frightful and memorable in the first place. Michael Myers didn't provide motivation for his actions, Jason Voorhees would attack as a result of trespassing and sexuality, and Freddy Krueger would pervert whatever you took solace in. Teenagers in middle-class families were closely protected in the 1980s era, and that protection made them feel untouchable. What made Freddy Krueger so scary was that nobody was safe from him. A person could lock themselves into a bomb shelter, and yet the moment they fell asleep, they would be prone to attack.

Not many filmmakers have shown an understanding of what can shake the nerves of their viewers. The most recent movie that could claim this achievement was Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity. What was it that made Paranormal Activity so affective? The movie's demon would attack the protagonists during their most vulnerable state: sleep. Sound familiar?

Wes Craven obviously knew how to scare the people during that time period. The movie wasn't really about Freddy Krueger, he didn't even appear on the movie poster. It was about an opponent that would turn your comforts against you and leave you without the possibilities of victory or escape. You were trapped in his world. As the original franchise went on, the plots became more focused on Krueger's cheesy one-liners and themed death traps. Focusing too much on the villain and not on the actual themes that he represented is what turned the original series into the slapstick slasher franchise it became and is what plagues this incarnation as well.

Craven attempted to correct the idea in 1994 by making his second movie involving the characters entitled New Nightmare. It took the focus off of Krueger slaughtering irrelevant kids and brought the series into the real world to torment the creators of the original film, namely Heather Lagenkamp who played the original Nancy. Craven once again brought the villain into a group that seemed untouchable, real-life actors, and set him free to prey upon their fears. It worked, but the story was then returned to the cannon of the original series in Freddy vs. Jason, which was much closer to being classified as an action movie than anything truly scary.

Samuel Bayer may have directed this movie with a much darker atmosphere than the previous installments, but he and the writers far from repaired the franchise. Teenagers are introduced, frightened with jump-thrills, and then disposed of in the goriest fashion available. Loud noises may raise audiences' adrenaline levels, but nothing about this movie will give them the spooks when bedtime rolls around. Sweet dreams.