A Nightmare On Elm Street, the original Wes Craven film is widely considered across the board a classic. Praised by almost all horror fans myself included , it spawned seven sequels including the slasher team up Freddy Vs Jason. It's fair to say that Freddy Kreuger is a horror icon, so much so, you would think his loyal fan base would be ecstatic to hear he's returning to the big screen after a seven year absence. However, this was not the case. Why, Because they re-cast the comedian serial killer previously portrayed by Robert Englund, for none other then Academy Award Nominated actor Jackie Earle Haley. How dare they, I know.
What was the result? It wasn't an absolutely mind blowing performance from Haley, but still easily the best on screen incarnation of Freddy Krueger to date. He's not so much funny anymore, as he is clever and sadistic.
A group of teenagers living on Elm Street in the small town of Springwood Ohio, all friends, are having the same nightmare. They’re being terrorized by a man, who’s horribly burned , wearing a tattered red and green sweater, a beaten up brown fedora, and a glove with razor sharp knives at the finger tips.
One by one he stalks them in their dreams, where he controls the rules, and the only way out is to wake up. When one of them dies a violent gruesome death, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens in reality, and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake. Turning to each other, the survivors try to uncover how they all became part of this same nightmare.
The opening sequence in the film is amazing, the re-introduction to Freddy Krueger was not at all what I was expecting. The trailers really don't give much away, and in a lot ways really don't do it justice.
We're introduced to all of the main characters within the first five minutes, they're attending a friends funeral, and don't worry I'm not spoiling anything. From here we follow Kris (Katie Cassidy) for the first portion of the film, and where it stands apart from the original, is she has little actual involvement with Nancy (Rooney Mara), aside from talking to her briefly at the funeral. At first it almost feels like Nancy has been replaced with Kris as the main character, as we see very little of her to begin with.
The jail scenes from the original are successfully updated, only hardly taken advantage of. Much like before, this ends fairly quickly.
Nancy then joins forces with Quintin (Kyle Gallner)to help one another stay awake, and find the connection between her friends, and Freddy Krueger the man from all of their nightmares. She knows her mom is hiding something, so convenient dialogue and plot leads to her soon finding out how she really knows Freddy, and how long her friends and her have actually known one another.
The story moves along fairly quickly altogether, but unlike the original it has far less plot holes. They attempt to give Freddy somewhat of a back story in the form of a few brief flashbacks about half way through, but decided to cram all this into only 102 minutes running time, as opposed to making it a full two hours and fully developing the back story.
The most important aspect, the portrayal of the icon himself Freddy Krueger, is done extremely well by Jackie Earle Haley. The new Freddy is no longer comedic, nor is he fun. He's creepy, weird and disgusting as shit, his face is absolutely nasty. The only real downfall for Freddy is every time we see him, he has a different voice and a new clever quip, sometimes perverted, and others very angry or sadistic. There is no doubt in my mind, Haley is a huge step up from what we were getting with Englund in the past, and I say this as life long fan of the franchise.
Said and done, Haley brings his A-Game for us, where as Englund brought only his charisma and shitty make up.
Yes, the new make up does actually look really good. Once you see it in action, you'll forget how shitty it looked in almost all those trailers you saw. The same can almost be said for his voice as well, its definitely a lot better then what you've heard yet, but it does change through out the course of the entire film for no apparent reason.
The kills, I would say are a huge step up from "most" everything we saw in the original franchise. Except for the throw backs to the original, the bathtub scene was changed entirely, and the jail "suicide" was very "meh", and not so much of a suicide anymore either.
The dream scenes are done extremely well, Samuel Bayer has brought a whole new take of this aspect to the nightmare franchise. The differentiating between the dreams and reality isn't always seamless like it was in the original, but the dreams themselves are done much better in the remake. Bayer, seems to really capture the feeling of what its like to be sleeping and inside an actual living nightmare.
I think that new fans to the franchise will easily consider Haley to be the definitive Krueger, as he did do a great job, but returning die hard fans of the original may not like the way Freddy looks or sounds, and I'll expect to hear as much from them.
I'll admit that in some ways I went into this with a slightly biased opinion, because I've grown up loving the original franchise for years. But I think that Platinum Dunes and Samuel Bayer have put together a great Nightmare film. I was worried I'd have my expectations set too high and end up disappointed, but I really liked what they did. They have officially succeeded in making Freddy Krueger scary again!
Aside from the story moving almost too quickly, and the dialogue being repetitive and convenient at times, A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) is arguably the best incarnation of Freddy Krueger yet.
My one real complaint for the remake, would be re-using a line from Freddy Vs Jason. I won't say what line, or where it's used, but when you hear it you'll know right away what I mean. Of all the movies to take from, why Freddy Vs Jason?
Now lets just hope that the sequel gets the green light from NL/WB, assuming it will be more then successful at the box office. Fingers crossed.
I'm giving 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' 3.5/5
"A Nightmare On Elm Street" opens everywhere this Friday