Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.
With every passing week I get more and more assured that Hollywood has run out of ideas. But unlike some people I really don't mind remakes, endless sequels (I love Saw don't I?), and when films steal ideas because of that very reason. Hollywood can't make anything original. One person that has really perpetuated this and that is Michael Bay and his production group Platinum Dunes. Since 2003 they have remade most to all of the original slasher films (besides Halloween which Rob Zombie got) like Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (both of them), The Hitcher and The Amityville Horror. Now Michael Bay and crew are back and this time they are revamping the classic series A Nightmare on Elm Street.
A Nightmare on Elm Street has always been one of my favorite horror series of all time. Besides the abysmal second one the series has maintained a sense of creepiness, actual scariness without jump scares and it's campy as all Hell. As the series went on Freddy got more and more vocal and by Freddy's Dead he was a snarky bastard who was as creepy as he was funny. Then in 1994 A New Nightmare was released during Wes Craven's "Tongue in cheek F-U horror films" phase. A New Nightmare saw a more evil Freddy, a more demonic Freddy and it brought him to the real world. Freddy then disappeared for nine years, resurfacing for the campy but fun "Freddy vs Jason." It's been seven years now and Freddy has finally returned, this time with a new face. And that face's name is Jackie Earle Haley.
This version of Freddy is a much more creepy than scary Freddy. Part of that is due to an actually touching but horrifying back story that they show about halfway into the film. In it, Fred Krueger is a gardener whose life revolves around the children at a local pre-school. (WARNING SPOILERS BUT REALLY IF YOU'RE SEEING THIS YOU KNOW THE STORY) Fred is a kind man and loves to play games like hide and seek and tag. He also lives in the basement of the pre-school. Down there is his "secret cave." In his "secret cave" he would bring the children down to paint and draw pictures. He would also get them to take pictures...and if you've seen Diff'rent Strokes you know how the rest goes. Anyway the kids told on Fred and Fred decided to flee only to be caught by the kids parents and burned alive. Unlike the original series it's never revealed how Freddy came back to life and how he got into people's dreams but it's a 90 minute horror film so what do you expect?
Either way it's many years later and the film starts with Dean and Kris. Dean keeps falling asleep and seeing this man. Kris tries to assure him he's not real...right before the dream man forces a knife into his throat. At the funeral Nancy, a local diner waitress, reveals that she sees the man as well but she keeps trying to forget and ignore him. A few days later Jesse, Kris' ex boyfriend, comes over to Kris' house after Kris has a horrible daydream in class that causes her to freak out. Jesse decides to stay the night only for Kris to get murdered in her sleep. Jesse gets arrested and dies shortly afterwards and now it's up to Nancy and her buddy who has a crush on her Quentin to figure out how to stop this man who reveals himself to be Freddy.
The film doesn't reinvent the wheel. In fact I don't think it tries to. It knows it's a modern day remake of a classic 80s slasher flick and in fact this new Nightmare tries to be a little more campy in some ways. It's not ha ha funny like the fifth and sixth film but most to all of Freddy's lines as Freddy are pretty tongue in cheek or more along the lines of an action hero who talks in one-liners. But where some films would become eye-rollingly bad from this walking one liner dispenser it's helped by the phenomenal acting of Jackie Earle Haley. Haley is the reason to stay and watch this film. He embodies creepiness and, despite him sounding like Rorschach the entire film, he actually pulls Freddy off quite well. And especially in the back story scenes he conveys this dark innocence and malevolence that only someone who starred in Little Children could do. He's the best thing this movie's got to offer. That's not to say the other actors are bad however. In fact most of them are pretty good. Their main problem however is that you don't really care about them. They are all kind of emo so it's really hard to root for them...except Nancy but she's the protagonist so you have to root for her.
But even with all the positives I've listed there are a few nagging errors in this film that DO bother me. The first is that they only use jump scares to induce fear. The back story scenes are a welcome change but everything else is "Quiet....AHHHHHHH....quiet.....AHHH!!" the entire film. There is barely any music (which is sad since the composer does a great job) and so it's a bit off putting to keep getting VERY LOUD musical sting after musical sting. Like the Wolfman and many horror films nowadays musical stings have become the only source of scariness in films. With the original it was more in your face. Johnny Depp got pulled in the bed and there was no jump scare with it. It was just "Oh he's getting pulled down...WTF is happening? OMG BLOOD GUSHER!" That was awesome. And instead of a musical STING it was like the Jaws theme in there. And THAT was scary.
See what I mean. That's scary. The music sting/jump scare thing is really the only major gripe I have. Otherwise my only other problem is it's a bit abrupt, poorly paced at times with lot's of talky pieces in between the death scenes and as a slasher junkie there weren't enough kills. There were a lot of off-screen ones that you only briefly hear or read about but only a few people die in this film. Remember Freddy's Dead? He killed thousands in that film!
Overall A Nightmare on Elm Street is a decent horror remake of a great film and features overall good acting that suffers from bad pacing, one note scaring tactics, characters you don't care about and not enough slashing. I recommend it but only after you've seen all the other films...besides two...this is MUCH better than two.
MY VERDICT: RENT IT