Ah, The “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, one of what I call the “Big Three” of the slasher genre, along with “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween”. Those who have seen all of these movies, or even just a fair few, know that the endless sequels were almost all tosh. If there is one thing worse than the slasher sequel though, it’s the horror remake. All three of these franchises have been remade and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is the last to get this treatment, and oh boy oh boy, I can’t wait to tell you how disappointing it is.
The story concerns the kids of Elm Street, who are distraught because one of their friends has recently kicked the bucket very violently in plain view of an entire classic American diner. It seems as though he killed himself but at the same time it seems like something is pushing him to do this. Let’s not beat around the bush, we all know it is Freddy Krueger — played by Jackie Earle Haley this time around — who is attacking the children of Elm Street in their dreams. Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) must put their brains together to somehow beat this supernatural pervert. Oh, and they can’t sleep, on pain of death.
Yeah you’ve seen this movie before, and you’ve seen it better. The remake of the horror classic from way back in 1984, takes out everything that made the initial film great. The creativity is gone, and the stalking up to the kill and the murders themselves, are a shadow of their former greatness. All Freddy seems to do in this one is try to scare people by using his claws to scratch metal pipes. That’s kinda creepy, well it was, but then he does it again… and again… and then once more, before he does it again. Can you do anything else Freddy? By this point just you rolling over like a puppy would be scary just because of how surprising it would be. Now I’d pay to see that.
Freddy isn’t just losing his creative edge nowadays, he’s also just plain not as interesting as good old Robert Englund was. I understand the change from a more comedic Freddy (though I believe the initial Freddy wasn’t so comedic as to diminish his disturbing aura) to a much darker one who doesn’t make jokes. I would have completely accepted this, if the new Freddy was actually somewhat interesting or at the very least scary. Cheap special effects and a quite frankly odd looking Freddy mask that was made for Haley — he honestly looks like a hamster, maybe it’s just me — brings the creepiness down to somewhere below “Curious George”.
Let’s not forget that the new Freddy has been turned into more of a “Curious George” this time around. He is portrayed as more of a paedophile and by extension child molester than the initial incarnation was. There was potential in the back story change, but it isn’t enough to save the film from the annals of drudgery.
The actors themselves are merely passable, they spend most of the movie dosing off in public places to try and pull the classic “Oh wait, is this a dream sequence?!” on the audience. If you haven’t seen or aren’t familiar with “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, then maybe this will fool you. You’ll quickly get the idea though and by the time someone has fallen asleep whilst running through a corridor, the potential for surprise will have been long sucked out of the inner fibres of your soul.
The movie feels like something that was meant for a half hour short film, but instead of increasing the run time and thereby adding new ideas to the film, they just did everything they had done in the short film three more times. There is very little to pull you back into the dream-like state the original left you in.
So is this a remake, reboot or a re-imagining? I think a re-tread is more like it.