Welcome to the modern age Freddy. Now I know they've tried to update you before with the times, only coming through once really with "New Nightmare", but its time for a remake now. So the nightmare continues on for a whole new generation as this timeless story is brought back to life in a new form.
Too bad the form isn't near as solid as it was done 26 years ago (holy shit time flew by!) and to make Freddy scary again they have done a few new things whilst trying to keep the foundation of what made the original "A Nightmare On Elm Street" so amazing. It's not near what I could have hoped for but it wasn't the atrocity that I have read it was either.
Nancy is having nightmares. A man with a burned face and a green and red sweater with a clawed hand is out to kill her. Naturally, its just a dream right? Not if all the other teenagers have the same dream about the same man. Not if suddenly a few kick the bucket due to 'unusual' circumstances while sleeping. Not if there is some truth to the nightmares. Nancy is going to uncover a secret of their past lives and one that's just burning up to take a little slice of them.
How does one go about writing a review of this re-envisionment of a classic without comparing the two? It's hard. So I'm not going to try too hard because the information is relevant at least. Considering that this film generally sticks to the same formula as the original (details are changed) and even pulls some of its classic scenes than its fully acceptable I think.
So is "A Nightmare On Elm Street" living up to its expectations? Hell no. To even think that one can touch the utter brilliance that was the original is daft. Yet, this one tries and runs flat more often than not. So lets start with what the film does well and then we can run into what it fucked up.
The visual aspect of this film is pretty sweet. Its got a slick production and a budget to give the film a nice look. Director Bayer has a few tricks up his sleeve with the visual side that makes this film a hearty watch (like the snowy bedroom scene or the moment when Kris falls asleep in class). Not to mention that Jackie Earle Haley has a pretty solid casting call for Freddy Kruger. His deep voice, cackle, and general scary disposition hold one tight to the monster despite his overuse on screen. Even his make-up (done to look far more like a real burn victim) can't hold a candle to his work here which makes the film worth its watch.
Unfortunately, that's about it. It's got a little bit of visual charm and Kruger is as scary as he used to be, but this new "Nightmare" just doesn't hold water like it should. The characters run far too flat far too often and many of the homage scenes taken from the original (the wall stretch, the body bag in the school, the bath tub scene) feel more out of place than they should. This has to do with the odd place between old school horror and modern horror that this picture falls into. It tries to be like the original so badly, that it feels forced and misses the details that made the original so good. Why does Freddy have to give so many boo scares? Where's the thrill of the chase he gets from their fear? There's no subtlety to this film at all. The shadow work at the end brought back some of that feeling but it was already too late to save the entirety of the film. So it loses that in its pacing and its detail work. Tries to hard to be like the original and just can't be clever enough to do it.
It must also be mentioned that there are some new things throw into the mix here...unfortunately, which more or less also fall flat. Fred Kruger is changed from a child murderer to a child molester for example. Which is a nice dark twist except it doesn't really make sense. Where did the glove come from then? It's not used to kill? Except now? What? So he goes from molester to killer fairly easily? It just really doesn't add up. Then there is the fact that there never really feels like a 'hero' to balance our 'villain'. They made the boyfriend to Nancy role quite a bit larger and pulled a lot of the character development away from our heroine. Which in the end, hurt the balance of the film. So even the new stuff they added was a bit of a let down.
In the end, "A Nightmare On Elm Street" felt like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be its own entity or a true new version of the original. And in its indecisiveness it found itself as neither and falling flatter than it should. It has a nice look to it and the casting of Kruger gives it a standard 2.5 star rating, but had it not been for Haley than this might have been more like a 1.5 star film.
BONUS RANT: Why the hell did they essentially do away with the Elm Street connection? Only a few of the kids lived on Elm Street and there is no mention of its significance like it originally had. That's one detail they should have kept considering it's in the fucking title.
Written By Matt Reifschneider