On Day 2 of WonderCon, the Warner Bros. panel featured an extended scene from Samuel Bayer’s remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street with a good portion of the cast in attendance including the new Freddy Krueger, Jackie Earle Haley. He was joined by Rooney Mara (Nancy), Katie Cassidy (Chris), Thomas Dekker (Jesse) and Kyle Gallner (Quentin), essentially four of the teens whom Freddie torments in their dreams. Unfortunately, director Samuel Bayer wasn’t able to make it because he’s busy trying to finish up the music mix in time to make the prints for the movie’s April 30 release.
Before the actors came onstage for their segment, they showed an extended scene from the movie, essentially the longer diner sequence that opens the most recent trailer [SPOILER ALERT!]:
The clip starts on the outside of a diner on a rainy night. Inside, Dean, played by Kellan Lutz of “The Twilight Saga,” is sitting at a diner table by himself and a waitress comes by with a pot of coffee and he asks for some but she ignores him and keeps walking, so he keeps calling to her as he follows her back into the kitchen and she silently walks into the distance. As the camera slowly follows him into the darkened kitchen, we see that the stove is on fire with flames raging to the ceiling. As he walks closer, he notices the entire kitchen has animal parts everywhere – pig’s feet on the stove in large pots and pig heads hanging from the ceiling. He calls out to see if anyone’s in there, and Freddy’s clawed glove comes into frame behind him, two of the knived fingers scratch against its neighbor to sharpen themselves before the kill. The screeching noise the glove creates forces Dean to turn around but when he does, there’s no one there. But then Freddy pops up right next to him and slashes at his face, which he blocks with his hand and jerks awake, having been shaken by the waitress, who turns out to be Nancy, the film’s heroine, who tells him that if he keeps falling asleep, he’ll be kicked out of the diner (as seen in the trailer).
As she takes his plate and walks away, Dean notices that his hand is bleeding where Freddy slashed it so he wraps it up and creepy music plays. Then we go over to Nancy as Katie Cassidy’s Kris walks into the diner and she says she’s there to see Dean. She sits down across from him and notes that he doesn’t look good; he responds that he hasn’t slept in three days and she suggests he go talk to someone. He said that he did talk to someone and that he was told his problems come from his childhood, when the nightmares began. She asks, “So you can’t sleep?” to which he replies, “I can sleep, I just don’t want to.” She says that they’re just dreams and not real, and they go back and forth as their conversation continues. Frankly, their dialogue was so mundane that it really slowed the pace of the clip down considerably especially after the creepy opening.
Eventually, she leaves to use the bathroom, and he starts spinning a steak knife on the table and puts his head down in one hand and within seconds, Freddy attacks, and Dean tries to use the knife to defend himself but Freddy grabs the hands and starts pulling it towards his throat. Meanwhile, Nancy and Kris have returned and all they see is Dean holding a steak knife at his own throat, and before they can stop him, he plunges the knife into his jugular.
This last bit is the first time we really see the new make-up for Freddy up close, and it’s kind of strange compared to the Robert Englund original, which was so eerie due to the pronounced way that the skin on his face is so ripped up from the fire. One thing that is interesting is the way Bayer seems to be playing with the light in the dream sequences which may give some clue when his victims are about to experience some of his nightmarish threats.
After the panel, ComingSoon.net attended a press roundtable with the cast, but we mainly had questions for Jackie Earle Haley himself.
How he developed his version of Freddy:
“The first film was the one I was kind of looking at and getting a sense of the tone. It was the film that I think we’re mostly reenvisioning. It was darker in tone than the rest of them that follow, but I watched the stuff that Robert (Englund) did, but I didn’t want to look at it from the standpoint of ‘What can I copy? What can I do?’ It was more of just ‘What is the feeling and the sense of this?’ I knew that I needed to come at this where this character was familiar yet new. If I went too far and changed him to where you couldn’t recognize him, then I had taken it too far. We had to dish up something that the hardcore fans would still recognize yet something that was still fresh and something I could make my own.”
On Freddie’s role as a “dream demon”:
“I started on this long process when Sam sent me this book on serial killers, and it wasn’t anything specific, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s start working together, let’s look at this and talk about it.’ It was a big book, there must have been a thousand serial killers in this book, and I kind of keyed into Ed Kemper and started to wrap my head around this guy’s head and started to delve into it. And I noticed on the internet that they had done a movie on this guy so I went and clicked on it, and it was a slasher movie. That kind of upset me. Wow, here is this serial killer and they turned it into a slasher movie? Then I realized, ‘Oh, wow, I’m going down the wrong road here,’ and I realized at that point my job wasn’t to get into the mind and really try to understand the serial killer, it was really to embrace the fact that this was the main character of a campfire story. He was a mythical boogieman, and when I realized that, it was incredibly freeing and it allowed me to go after this character. I think that’s what he is. To me, this dream demon represents this unstoppable fear. I always felt that one of the most vulnerable places you are is when you’re lying in your bed asleep. This is the dangerous world we live in. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been wakened at night by horrific nightmares and stuff, so to me, it represents those fears, but it mostly represents that culture of the campfire story. For some reason, in the right genre, we love to embrace this sick, horrific telling of stories so we can giggle while we scare the sh*t out of one another. It’s a fun genre, it’s part of our culture.”
On whether the movie tries to humanize Freddy:
“I don’t know if I’d use the word ‘humanity.’ I think it just delves a little bit more into his backstory. It’s a little more of an origin. I think the first movie was an origin story and I think this one you get a little bit more, but it’s still a lot of the same points that we see in the first film. To me, I always felt like we were remaking the first one. There’s a lot of new and different things going on in it, but a lot of the main points, it’s kind of the same curve, which I think is great.”
Talking about the new make-up:
“Andrew Clement designed the heck out of this thing. I think that Freddy’s new look, it’s kind of more grounded in reality as you know, and obviously, his process was huge. When I became part of it, that’s where they’re actually applying it to me, the process was like six and a half hours long and that’s because a lot of it is still art. They’re kind of getting on there, making decisions, moving things around, taking pictures, showing them to Sam, getting approvals on things, making changes. But once all the decisions had been made, we finally got it down to three and a half hours, which is still kind of arduous, it was like a little torture session. And about an hour to just get out of it, it was pretty gruesome.”
The new Freddy has his own freaky dream:
“There was one night, man. We’d been going for a week straight and wearing that (make-up) consecutive days can take a toll. On the fifth day, I remember lying in bed–and this is after the wrap and had cleaned up–and it suddenly dawns on me that all the make-up is still on my face. It wasn’t. I had to keep reminding myself, ‘It’s not on, it’s not on,’ but that was weird. So this total phantom make-up, falling asleep and it just feels like it’s all there, but it’s not.”
Why people who had been turned off by later movies in the series should give the remake a chance:
“I think the fact that we’re literally starting over. The first thing Sam told me is that his vision was he wanted this movie to not be a comedy. That didn’t mean there wasn’t room for a little levity here and there, but not where it had previous gone where it was really camp. Fun in its own way, but starting over I think was important to get back to more serious, darker, scarier. I think that’s what’s going to be new about it. I think it’s a darker film.”
A Nightmare on Elm Street opens everywhere on April 30.