Freddy Krueger gets a reboot in A Nightmare on Elm Street, the remake of the 1984 horror movie that spawned so many sequels.
Back again on Elm Street, we meet a group of high schoolers who, unbeknownst to each other — at least at first — all have the same nightmare. A man with knives for fingers and a burnt face chases and terrifies them and, after a few of their number are killed, they soon realize that when you die at his hand in the dream you die in real life.
The man, of course, is Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley). (This is a remake, so, while, SPOILER ALERT I don’t really consider anything here a plot twist.) His connection to these teens, their connection to each other and the source of his evil is the mystery our ever dwindling number of kids must solve if they are to have a chance at stopping him.
The movie gives more or less equal time to all the teens — a few of whom are recognizable but none of whom are breakout stars — before finally landing on Nancy (Rooney Mara) as the girl who gets to do a good chunk of the sleuthing. Her mother (Connie Britton) and the father of another one of the sleepless teens (Clancy Brown) are TV famous and get a bit more to their parts than other adults.
I came to Freddy late and remember more about the increasingly cheesy and campy sequels than the original film. Thus, while I knew what would happen here, I had a considerably elevated expectation of camp. The reality offered no surprises and none of the humor (unintentional or not) I’d come to expect from a Freddy movie. The movie is all grim mystery, suspense-free horror, plodding slasherness. I must admit I didn’t expect this movie to be great cinema, but I didn’t quite expect it to be such an unpleasant slog. It’s a poorly written Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with a pre-Saw approach to blood and guts and an absolutely flat story, without the chill-inducing sparks you want in your movie monsters. There is nothing in this movie that answers the “why would you remake this” question that every dull, disagreeable moment makes you ask.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is absolutely no fun — not a good scare, not a good laugh, not a good use of your $8. D
Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language. Directed by Samuel Bayer and written by Eric Heisserer and Wesley Strick, from characters by Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street is an hour and 35 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.