I can understand why the filmmakers behind “A Nightmare on Elm Street” felt the need to hit the restart button in remaking Wes Craven’s classic 1984 chiller, but in doing so, they’ve managed to sap the fun out of the franchise.
How soon we forget that razor-gloved dream demon Freddy Krueger wasn’t always a wisecracker. He didn’t start out that way and, finally, he’s not that once again. Now played in full burn-victim regalia by Jackie Earle Haley, he’s still menacing the dozing teenagers whose vigilante parents played judge, jury and executioner to him roughly 15 years beforehand; as one exhausted kid says, if Freddy kills you in your dreams, you die in real life.
Some of the iconic sequences of the original are re-created, while other deaths are brand-new. The concept essentially remains unchanged, so where does this “Nightmare” veer of the road? After all, it’s nowhere near the worst of the modern horror remakes “ just soundly mediocre.
The two leads are drab, so there’s little to root for. Rooney Mara, although great in “The Social Network,” is so frowny and lifeless as Nancy. Whereas Heather Langenkamp was the girl next door, Mara is the girl next door who sits brooding in the basement. I would’ve much rather seen Katie Cassidy in the lead, instead of having her killed off early.
But at least Mara registers more than co-star Kyle Gallner (“The Haunting in Connecticut“), whose mannerisms are off-putting, often leaning on his bee-stung lips and caterpillar brow to do the acting for him.
While Haley is an excellent actor, Freddy seems like such a supporting character to his own horror show. He’s just not given that much to do, other than letting the sound guys know when to blast a loud noise. Perhaps in the sequel?
Warner’s Blu-ray includes an alternate ending that was wisely excised, and an alternate opening that should’ve been retained. A series of micro-features examine the various elements that make Freddy Freddy (i.e. the glove), but the behind-the-scenes featurette is mere PR puffery. —Rod Lott