Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street
PLOT: A group of teens are terrorized in their dreams by a horribly burned bogey man named Freddy Krueger (Robert En...Umm..Jackie Earle Haley) with a striped sweater, a bladed glove and a fedora.
Despite the fact that the last full-on Englund Freddy flick, FREDDY VS. JASON was only six years ago, and was also the highest grossing film of the franchise, the bean counters in Hollywood have once again decided to use the dreaded re-boot, and the result is one of the sorriest excuses for a horror film I`ve seen in a while (unless you count THE BOUNTY HUNTER, which was scary for other reasons, mainly that its somehow grossed twice as much as KICK-ASS, but I digress).
This new NIGHTMARE is only a nightmare for fans of the franchise, who are going to hate the pussy they've turned Freddy into. Gone is the psychotic, yet funny boogie-man who gave us nightmares as kids. Instead, he`s been replaced by the `three-dimensional` Earle Haley incarnation. In their efforts to make Freddy more layered, the character has essentially been gelded, and turned into just another generic baddie. Englund`s Freddy, `the son of a thousand maniacs,` was the very personification of evil, while Haley`s just playing a scumbag (similar in a lot of ways to the character he played in LITTLE CHILDREN), who is somehow given powers from beyond the grave, and able to claim revenge through a series of tedious dream sequences lifted out of Wes Craven`s original NIGHTMARE (which still holds up).
Now, I like Haley. He was fantastic in WATCHMEN, and I also thought he gave a brilliant performance in LITTLE CHILDREN (where he`s more frightening than he is in this). I can`t really blame him for the failure of this film, as it`s obvious he gave it his all. He`s sabotaged by a weak script, unmemorable CGI-enhanced make-up (far from the iconic look sported by Englund a.k.a the real Freddy), and hackneyed direction (a surprise, as Samuel Bayer`s directed some amazing music videos).
I also really disliked the group of kids Freddy`s stalking, in particular this version`s Nancy, played by a wooden Rooney Mara. While Heather Langenkamp probably didn`t deserve any awards for the original film, she was at least a likable heroine. Mara`s just plain boring, as is the male lead, Kyle Gallner. Thomas Decker, and Katie Cassidy, who play Freddy`s earlier victims, don`t fare much better, but I think I would have rather followed them around for ninety minutes instead of Mara and Gallner.
The only thing I liked about this fake NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was the score, which leans heavily on the classic Charles Bernstein score from the original film. However, this NIGHTMARE isn`t even a patch on the ass of the worst NIGHTMARE films, as even when those were bad (4), they were still pretty good (it`s hard to dislike a film where Freddy is revived by a dog`s flaming urine). This is just a sorry example of what now passes for a horror film (but at least it's not in 3D).