The problem with most remakes is that they are forced to justify their existence as being something that’s necessary and beyond being cheap money grabs from a sometimes creatively bankrupt studio system. Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t a horrible movie, but it’s a film that’s incredibly bland, unimaginative and you can’t help but watch and wonder, why? It’s slow, tedious, and kind of pretentious. All the talk about it really focusing on Freddy’s back-story was a lie.
I kept waiting for something that would be materially different than the original and it never really happens. Yes the deaths and the characters are slightly different, I think the only “original” character they kept was Nancy and Freddy and this Nancy (Rooney Mara) just fails in comparison to the original played with spunk and gusto by Heather Langenkamp. Rooney just sleepwalks through her role. There was a noticeable lack of intensity. She seemed incapable of displaying much emotion and was one note throughout the film. And why was she blond as a little girl?
The movie didn’t bother to set up any of the characters or create a friendship amongst the kids and there is absolutely no chemistry or much interplay amongst the cast so when they finally got put out of their misery I just didn’t care – when Johnny Depp falls asleep at the end of the original, I go “oh, f” every time I see it and Heather plays the moment perfectly. Rooney and the creepy boy from Veronica Mars (Kyle Gallner) are just terrible in their version of this iconic horror scene. She doesn’t even seem to know that he fell asleep and got knifed by Freddy!
Did I mention how ponderously slow everything is? The pacing just feels off and lazy. Yes, I know it was done to build tension, but it was almost sleep inducing and as bad as the previous Freddy movies got they were at least innovative and fun to watch (well except Pt 4, which I walked out of). Many “purest” talk about how Freddy shouldn’t be funny, but in my book that made Freddy stand apart from the other silent killers like Jason, Michael, etc. Freddy actually had a personality, enjoyed what he was doing and played with his victims that made him scarier. Not being silent, stalking and Mr. Broody Pants.
Samuel Bayer sucked the life out of this and didn’t show any innovation in any of the dream sequences. As a matter of fact they all felt the same and cribbed from the original. I don’t remember the dreams in the original being so bland (I’m going to have to watch it again) but they definitely got more fun and out there in the later installments.
I don’t have much to say about Jackie Earle Haley‘s performance, like I said before, I like my Freddy to have some personality, he didn’t and the makeup looked a bit fake and too “clean” to me. His bit with the clinking knives as he walked didn’t feel right. Kind of neat the first two times he did it, by the 4th and 5th, it was old. It seemed like the Director realized he sucked the life out of Freddy so towards the end of the movie we start getting “jokes,” but they all fell flat, and came too late. It would be like if Jason all of a sudden cracked a joke at the end of a Friday the 13th film.
I know I sound harsh; I could have liked this movie if it didn’t have the legacy to live up to. The sets, story, everything is competent enough but it fails to answer the question remakes must answer, “Why do I exist?” When you have much better stuff that people aren’t supporting like Kick Ass, The Losers, or even How to Train A Dragon (which is having no issues at the box office), why waste money on this?
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Originally posted 3.30.2010