A Nightmare on Elm Street as directed by Samuel Bayer is essentially a remake of the highly acclaimed 1984 original from Wes Craven. According to the majority of press, the general consensus is that the new age retooling pales in comparison to its source material, which is widely regarded as one of the best and most inspired horror films of all time.
I’ve never seen the original. It was before my time, as you may like to put it. Therefore, I have nothing to compare the film to, other than the general standard of film quality. I have no nostalgic connection to Freddy Krueger that will win the production points, nor will I become butthurt if any aspect of the film strayed from being faithful. All I can do is tell you whether or not the movie is good.
Which, in all honesty, it’s not.
The premise is interesting enough, even though the original film and its subsequent case of sequelitis have done the idea to death. In the world of Nightmare on Elm Street, a select group of teenagers are experiencing scarring nightmares, and I mean that quite literally. When one of the kids, who are all connected in some manner, falls asleep they find themselves in a hellish nightmare world where the events of the dream take a very real toll on that particular person’s body. You fall asleep, and your nightmare kills you.
They all dream about the same person, one Freddy Krueger, who is dream stalking them and introducing them to a bloody death, usually by the glove of knives he wears on his hand. Krueger is a creepy enough individual, plagued with burns all over his face and a sometimes frightening gargled voice, and the way in which he kills his victims is often entertaining, especially when you are allowed to see how the events are playing out beyond the realm of the unlucky teenagers dream.
Beyond this interesting concept and menacing murderer however, there just isn’t anything truly impressive here. Though the opening sequence and perhaps the following 20 minutes are enough to keep your attention, you’ll soon realize that the generic cast of teenagers just aren’t worth caring about. The actors perform on a scale that is average at best, though often worse, and the lackluster script doesn’t help things much either.Maybe the impact of this truth could be lessened by something like interesting character development, but there’s none of that to be found here. Beyond the two major characters, you never get a chance to learn about any of Freddy’s victims. In fact, well over half of them never make an appearance. The film lets you know they exist, and then five minutes later tells you they are all already dead.
On top of that, there is rarely ever a point in the movie where you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. If you have even basic knowledge of horror movie cliches, you will never find yourself surprised by any moment throughout the film. The events play out in such a mindlessly linear fashion that it is pointless to watch. Unless, of course, you are are watching for the gore. And even if that sounds like you, you may find yourself to be a bit disappointed.
I’m not going to downplay the fact that when Freddy does manage to wrap his blade ridden hands around one of the helpless characters there is an impressive and captivating amount of violence and blood. The problem is that it happens much less often than it should. I mean, this is a slasher film for God’s sake. Kill some more people and let us watch it! Don’t just tell us they’re dead.
Oh yeah, and there’s still the issue of Jackie Earle Hailey replacing Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Like I said, I never saw the original movies so I don’t know what kind of character Robert Englund managed to create. I can say that I feel Hailey does a pretty good job, and depicts a very creepy character. Still, I know what Englund’s Krueger looked like, and it was much better than Hailey’s version, who just looks like a burnt rat or something. Still, it’s not a big deal to me at all.
Honestly there is nothing that I can say to keep you from going to see this movie if you have already decided to do so. You are going to see it anyway, and I’m fine with that. Just know that it is a disappointment, and comes far from living up to the hype it has been given.
I really wanted to like this movie. It seemed like it was being handled very well, and I was under the impression that this might be the first good movie to come out of the recent flood of old school horror rehashes. Instead, A Nightmare on Elm Street goes the way of The Crazies and serves as nothing more than a waste of my money.
Score: 4.0/10 (Bad)