It’s been quite awhile now since we’ve had a proper A Nightmare On Elm Street film. We had Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, then Freddy vs. Jason, and finally the 2010 remake. It’s been quite the ride for the once proud franchise. Robert Englund is retired from the character of Freddy Krueger. That’s the real reason why something like this might not work. He is Freddy Krueger. Everything about the character revolves around the mannerisms and acting of Englund. But what if there was a way we could do justice to that, without sacrificing all that we love about the franchise?
After all Halloween did it and has done it with the current crop of movies. They feel familiar, but also stray away from the myriad sequels that somewhat watered down the series. The so-called “Thorn Trilogy” is fun, but we really care about the Strode family dynamic.
So what’s the dynamic that we care about with Freddy and A Nightmare On Elm Street? Well it starts with the Elm Street kids. The series evolves beyond those kids eventually, but it sacrifices the real reason why Freddy is coming after them. Instead of motivation, we just see Freddy killing random teenagers because it’s fun to watch. And it is, those later Elm Street sequels involve fun slasher kills. We root for Freddy. So where did the series go wrong?
The Remake Had Some Of The Right Idea
While the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street failed, it did have some of the right ideas that I’m talking about here. The movie felt scary. Making Freddy feel scary for the first time since 1994 with New Nightmare was a big deal. This time around, if you could get over the awful CGI they used, Freddy felt scary. That’s the key to it all. Making Freddy scary once again. And of course, not using terrible CGI. Makeup artists and designers cost a whole lot less and give more people jobs than terrible CGI does.
The other thing that the remake did well was replace the excess and bright palate of the later films with a more subdued take on the original Nightmare. The film was dark, dreary, and it felt like a horror movie. The performance by Jackie Earle Haley wasn’t terrible here either, it just wasn’t Robert Englund. So what’s the big fix for the series if they want to go forward with more movies?
Bring Back Heather Langenkamp As Nancy
It’s not as simple as this, but it goes a long way. Who is Freddy’s ultimate enemy? It’s Nancy. And yes, I know she died in Dream Warriors, I know. But Laurie Strode died in Halloween: Resurrection, and they got Jamie Lee Curtis back for the current string of fantastic movies. It turns out that Freddy’s ultimate motivation this entire time has been because Nancy stopped him all those years ago. Screenwriters are smart and modern audiences can understand if they’re going, “we’re forgetting that Part 2-Freddy’s Dead didn’t happen”.
It’s the only logical way you can get back that feeling of motivation for Freddy. It’s the only way you can bring the series back to where it once was. Because another remake ain’t gonna do it. More sequels where Freddy just kills basically nameless teenagers, ain’t gonna do it. And also, I’m sure maybe one last ride with Nancy could get Robert Englund back. It’s also a way to build new stars, Freddy terrorized Nancy, and now he’s going after her kids. The kicker? Nancy knows how to fight Freddy and will believe her kids, unlike her parents.
Nancy is Freddy’s greatest nemesis, and besides Jamie Lee Curtis, might be the best final girl in all of horror.
It’s Not A Bad Thing To Copy What Halloween Has Done
Why would it be a bad thing? The Halloween series has been revitalized because of the decisions that they’ve made. So to copy that blueprint for A Nightmare On Elm Street would be fine. The clear difference is that Michael Myers is a voiceless guy behind a mask. Whereas Freddy requires either Robert Englund or a damn good replacement to fill those shoes. Here’s to hoping it’s the first option because this idea wouldn’t work as well without Englund.
Making a film that’s closer to the tone of the original and keeping the feeling of fright is the key though. With all these elements you could just hit a stroke of magic for the Nightmare On Elm Street series. It’s not like the demand isn’t out there. People still went out to see the remake, it’s one of the highest grossing slasher films of all-time. It’s that creatively, it wasn’t the best.
Demand can show that there’s a market out there for A Nightmare On Elm Street, it just needs the right creative team. People who actually care about the original films as opposed to people just trying to make a quick buck with a slick looking film.
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