Remember Freddy Kreuger? The horror icon helped redefine the slasher genre by crafting one of the most original and scary horror movies of all time, A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was about several teenagers who fail prey to a disfigured murderer who stalks them in their dreams and kills them in reality. The horror movie made nearly $60 million at the box office based on a production budget of $1.8 million. The success of the Wes Craven feature spawned several numerous sequels that saw our favorite child murderer spout unforgettable one-liners that made us laugh, though in a nervous/funny kind of way. No matter how you feel about the sequels, there’s no denying the entertainment factor when it comes to the titular villain; however, the reboot seemingly stripped most of what made Freddy such an unforgettable presence. The premise is pretty much the same, Freddy taunts and kills a group of teenagers, but with one key difference, Freddy is a child molester.
Now, I understand that this was what Wes Craven had in mind for the original version of Freddy Kreuger. Perhaps the filmmakers changing Freddy’s backstory was to honor Craven’s legacy by implementing his original ideas into the new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. To the remakes credit, they don’t try to make Freddy Kreuger the same wise-cracking shyster with a pension for teenage blood, but in turn, this key character element is ultimately what sealed the fate of the remake. I think we can all agree that a pedophile is the most disgusting crime out there. Granted, child murderer isn’t exactly glamorous, but it’s not such a deplorable act compared to pedophile (and again, they are both still bad!). The thing is, Craven originally envisioned Freddy to be the more silent type character, which is why you don’t get as many wisecracks or jokes in the first film. That changed over time, and it allowed us to enjoy Freddy’s antics despite his heinous crimes. Freddy’s personality is what really got the franchise over. Don’t get me wrong, the premise is an attention grabber that has graced us with some amazing kills, but as the franchise started to embrace its comedic side there was a sick and dark thrill of seeing Freddy and all his campy galore.
Had Craven stuck to his original idea of Kreuger being a pedophile but injected the charm and wit of the later films, then A Night on Elm Street wouldn’t work. There’s nothing you can do to make an audience side with a pedophile. The idea of having a villain being such a deplorable human being is sound, if the plan is that the protagonist not only wins but kills the bastard. It’s an extremely touchy subject, which is why movies or television in general barely address such a dark topic. We know Freddy is the villain, but the horror icon usually ends up winning in his original films. Given the fact that the remake’s ending saw Freddy return, it was clear that executives wanted the franchise to continue. Let’s be real, A Nightmare on Elm Street became the Freddy Kreuger franchise. Other than Nancy Thompson or Glen Lentz (more so because its Johnny Depp and his death is legendary), who on the protagonist side do you remember? A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t exactly known for great characterization outside of Freddy. Hell, Nancy isn’t all that special of a character herself, but she’s decently written, and the charisma of Heather Langenkamp really helps sell the lead character. This was the core issue of the Nightmare remake.
Since Freddy is no longer somebody we can side with, it’s up to the protagonists to get us through the film. It should be easy since audiences instantly hate Freddy for his crimes, but dear God, the main cast of the feature is incredibly boring. It’s not the actor’s fault. Rooney Mara is a two-time Oscar nominee that’s proven her talent in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol, and The Social Network. Clancy Brown is a legend! Kellan Lutz is…there. There’s nothing compelling about the protagonists and the film doesn’t try to develop them. The original at least pulled off the basics that established who Nancy and her friends are. But since this franchise was scheduled to continue, that would mean that Freddy would continue to win. Nobody wants the pedophile to win. I respect that the filmmakers tried to capture the original vision of Wes Craven’s story. However, it ultimately doomed the remake because we don’t care about the protagonists or villain. Why would the audience want to watch a deplorable human being slaughter a group of bland teens for two hours?Freddy Kreuger