Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remake Report

So Hollywood's been remaking all these horror movies of late (and others, but that's not relevant to my gripe), and the latest to be put through the remake ringer is A Nightmare on Elm Street. The first instalment in this series scared the shit out of me (I was thirteen); not particularly all the gore and violence, but the psychological freak-fest of Freddy Krueger coming to get you when you fall asleep. Cause really, you can try and stay up for as long as you can, but eventually...

Even though I no longer watch horror movies, I was kind of "ah jeez" when the remake robot announced itself again with this latest pick. The terrifying premise of this film asserts the originality of the plot (something lacking in most films, and especially in the horror genre), and my immediate reaction was "Oh no, they're gonna fuck it up."

Now why would I care if I have no intention whatsoever of seeing the film? Simple. Because I believe in the integrity of original concepts and the underlying metaphors they carry. For those who haven't seen the original, I'm not going to go into too much detail, but the first sign that they're missing the pot already is in that they have replaced the original Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) with the newly cast Rooney Mara who, according to will be "more of an outsider goth girl" as opposed to Langenkamp's "all-American sweetheart".

Well. Anybody else see a huge underlying difference between turning the vanquisher of a child molester from a suburban, blonde-girl-next-door into an outsider goth-kid? Oh wait - does that make it cooler?

The blonde-girl-next-door: innocence, both of self and of the world at large, derived mostly from blonde, white-wearing gothic tropes locked up in castles with scary monsters

The goth-girl-outsider: not so much innocence as an inference of experience and knowledge about the world, found mostly in stories where the heroine already knows what she has to do but comes to her task reluctantly.

I'm making things terribly simplistic here of course, but I'm not going to write an essay about it... But does anyone else see how these different representations of the heroine undermines the event of Nancy eventually overcoming Freddy? In the original, Nancy is a symbol of uncorrupted innocence who gains experience and grows through her trials with Krueger. If the remake posits a character who already (by inference) possess these qualities, will the audience still care as much about her journey the second time around? Will the impact of her actions deliver the same emotional punch? Am I reading too much into what is essentially a two-hour movie of schlock entertainment?

Well, see, my position is this: we go to see movies for very specific reasons, and some of those reasons we may not even be aware of. Symbols and metaphors, when used well, work that way. I can't help but think that, by making Nancy a hip goth-chick, the story is trying to infer that our modern heroines are NOT afraid, are NOT innocent, that we know EVERYTHING right from the start and all we need is a little kick up the backside to make us do the right thing.

Are we that scared? Do we refuse to believe anymore that we are sometimes the innocents who have to face the Monster with no experience, no guns, no goth-attitude? Because that's a lot of bullshitting in the space of two hours.

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