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Producer Michael Bay’s vision has finally done what his last two attempts at horror revisions failed to do: keep the focus on the villain. In 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the whole movie was driven not by Leatherface, but by his father (R. Lee Ermey), whose performance was way over the top. In last year’s Friday the 13th remake, the pretty boy and girl actors take away from Jason more than any of the previous films did. They overhauled the characters beyond the point of recognition. But in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jackie Earle Haley (taking over for Robert Englund) is the star power behind the movie and he’s entirely in the driver’s seat. His performance in Watchmen and Little Children helped convince producers that they found a suitable replacement for the role of Freddy Krueger.
In the new film, the children of Elm Street are being taken out one at a time by a man with a scarred face and knives on his fingers — in their sleep. They try desperately to stay awake, but soon reality and their dreams become one and they can’t tell the difference. Nancy, the heroine of the film (Rooney Mara in the role originally played by Heather Langenkamp) confronts her mother about some unusual photos she finds and the name of a man name Freddy. The kids soon learn a horrible truth about their past that they have no memory of involving the man in their dreams. This new twist adds a different layer to the Freddy mythos. The new plot point involving Freddy’s past as a pedophile is something Wes Craven toyed with, but replaced it with him being a child killer. New director and music-video maker Samuel Bayer (best know for directing the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video for Nirvana) wanted some realism with the characters as he felt the series had gone from camp to crap. The original films never went into the back story of Freddy until the sixth part. In this movie, one long flash back provides great detail. Perhaps if they continue the series, they will eventually show Freddy before he worked at the school when he was “the bastard son of 100 maniacs.”
Unlike Jason, Leatherface, and Michael; Freddy is not restricted by what has to be real and fake. The reboots make them all real and not supernatural, Freddy can be real to a point but then when he enters your dreams it’s a whole new level. People also forget that Freddy is a more livelier villain. He’s a bit chatty, joking around a lot with an often dirty sense of humor. The other slashers are all silent, occasionally moaning. The dialog helps round out Freddy’s psychotic psychological profile.
At times, however, the film overexposes Freddy. We always saw Robert Englund’s Freddy in the shadows, rarely exposing him entirely. Occasionally in this film, Haley is seen in broad daylight. The scares are also not as original if you are extremely familiar with the eight previous films, but regardless, the new “Nightmare” will give a new generation something to latch onto and of course a reason to be scared when they go to sleep.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Directed by Samuel Bayer
Written by Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer, Wes Craven (characters)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “The reboot of the classic Wes Craven film proves three things: 1. Sometimes the little things make all the difference 2. Modern updates can be a detriment and 3. A strong villainous performance can save a movie from disaster. Despite a very close trajectory to the 1984 original, small unnecessary flourishes degrade what made the original such a unique gem. “Nightmare” also makes the single most crippling blunder of being dull and nothing is worse than a bland horror film. This is odd considering the ample visual flair present but perhaps after so many movies in the franchise the concept is simply stripped thin (especially a direct remake). The films aforementioned savior is Jackie Earle Haley who replaces icon Robert Englund as Freddy and is quite terrifying, exhibiting little to none of the humor that made the tanned tormentor famous in the “Nightmare” films throughout the ’90s. With a sequel already planned, here is hoping it was simply the confines of the original narrative that squeezed the life from yet another unnecessary remake.” Rating: 4/10
Dinah Thought: “A Nightmare on Elm Street is a decent though not scary horror remake. Casting agents made a grand improvement hiring Jackie Earle Haley to play iconic killer Freddy Krueger. Formerly played by Robert Eglund, Haley plays the role more with a more serious tone. His voice is amplified with a gravely thunderous effect and the writers kept the kitschy one-liners the killer is known for to an enjoyable minimum. The film does include typical horror staples such as beautiful, unknown, and terrible young actors but it delightfully deviated from recent scary movies with a few well done suspenseful scenes.” Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.3/10