Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language and sexual themes.
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger
Rooney Mara as Nancy Holbrook
Kyle Gallner as Quentin Smith
Katie Cassidy as Kris Fowles
Thomas Dekker as Jesse Braun
Kellan Lutz as Dean Russell
Director: Samuel Bayer
Teenagers Nancy (Rooney Mara), Quentin (Kyle Gallner), Kris (Katie Cassidy), Jesse (Thomas Dekker) and Dean (Kellan Lutz) are all neighbourhood friends who begin having the same dream of a horribly disfigured man who wears a tattered sweater and a glove made of knives. The man, Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), terrorizes them in their dreams, and the only escape is to wake up. But when one of their number dies violently, the friends realise that what happens in the dream world is real, and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake.
Horror remakes most of the time are just not good at all. One of the examples often given is the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I don’t dislike it as much as other people, I still don’t consider it to be a good remake at all. There are elements that I think are okay, with the acting and certain elements of the direction. But with the uninteresting story, boring characters, lack of any effective scares and excessive of obnoxious jump scares, it is still not enough to elevate it from it being a bad movie.
One of the worst elements about this movie is that it really isn’t that scary, I’ll go into more depth later on about the direction but I’ll just say that constantly having jump scares doesn’t make your movie scary, it actually does the opposite. Along with this movie not being scary, it’s also not that interesting. It’s just hard to care about what’s going on, the characters are so boring, there aren’t many unique elements that could interest me. It generally follows the same story as the original movie, with some minor changes which still aren’t enough to justify it existing. It’s mostly just a retread of the original movie, just done poorly. The only element that is different and new is a plot point which involves insomniacs sometimes dreaming when they are awake, which could’ve lead to some creative scares. However that was just wasted potential, as it’s just used for pointless jumpscares. One controversial element of the remake was the handling of Freddy. Slight spoiler alert but while the first movie had Freddy as more of a child killer, this remake version had him more like a pedophile. Many people said that with this version it’s hard to find Freddy to be likable, though I’m not sure how they’d find the original child killer version to be likable either. However I will say that the pedophile aspect really wasn’t that necessary, the portrayal of Freddy was going to be dark but they didn’t really need to have that element play a role in the movie.
It’s an near impossible job to take on such an iconic role, but Jackie Earle Haley did work pretty well in his version of Freddy Krueger. Gone are the darkly humorous moments from the previous Freddy, this Freddy is dark, creepy and monstrous (which viewers may or may not like). While it didn’t really change my view on this movie immensely, I do appreciate the effort to try something different (however I wish they did a whole lot more changes of the movie as a whole). The supporting cast was fine overall, nothing special but at the same time nothing terrible. They had barely anything to work with so it’s remarkable that the performances weren’t bad. Rooney Mara is in the lead role of Nancy, and she does seem to be playing a different Nancy from the original movie. While an excellent actress, you can still feel the lack of quality in the writing she was given. Her character is written so incredibly boring but Mara does enough to deliver a performance that is at the very least okay. I’ll just say that she is better in the second half more than the first half, probably because then she’s given a lot more to work with.
The direction is such a mixed bag. Some of the shots and cinematography actually are beautiful, the locations whether that be in a boiler room or a snowy location, etc, it looks gorgeous, and like what Nightmare on Elm Street would look like if it was filmed in more recent times. But then again, Max Payne was a beautiful looking movie and it was still a bad movie. Despite the positive aspects, there are some bad aspects as well. This movie does try to call back to the original by imitating certain shots, but it doesn’t feel like they were trying to tribute the movie, it just felt forced. I’m not really sure what to feel about Freddy’s look, the costume is all fine but the fake just looks goofy, fortunately Jackie Earle Haley’s performance is good enough to override it. The worst part of the direction however is when it tries to do its scares. This movie has countless jumpscares, none of them actually end up being scary however. And to make matters worse, many of the scares were just fake (scares with no actual danger), and after being hammered with so many dud scares, the viewing experience becomes even more frustrating. The kill scenes are violent bloody but they aren’t really affecting or that memorable.
The Nightmare on Elm Street remake isn’t complete garbage. There are elements of the direction I liked, I liked Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger and the rest of the cast are okay (at the very least, they are considerably better than acting in most bad horror remakes). Despite this, its not enough to make it a good movie. The remake fails to deliver any effective scares and adding on an uninteresting story, sitting through it almost feels like a chore. However I will give them this, it’s still better than Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.