Nightmare On Elm Street

I felt a little bit cheated when I saw the new “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie last week. I know that remaking classic slasher films has been a recent trend with Hollywood studios, but enough is enough. It was like watching the same damn film that came out in 1984, but with a new cast of no-names and updated special effect killings. It’s a good film if you are of a younger generation, who never saw the original, but most people that saw the original are the ones seeing the remake.

The film is about a group of high school kids who are killed in their sleep by a burned man wearing a sweater and razor blade on his fingers. One-by-one, as each person is killed in a so-so grueling way, the identity of the man is learned to be Freddy Krueger. Krueger was a gardener at the kindergarten the high schoolers attended, but he was killed by their parents after allegedly sexually abusing the young children.

Director Samuel Bayer makes his directing debut after years of directing some of the greatest music videos of the 1990s and 2000s and pretty much plays it safe by copying the original film. A lot of the scenes are exactly the same as the first incarnation and the plot does a great job mirroring the 1984 version. It was nice how Bayer went into the back-story of the Freddy Krueger character and showed strong flashbacks of pre-burned Krueger, which the original film only talked about. The back-story and some of the death scenes were the only true original concepts of this film.

The cast is made up of a bunch young and (I guess) up-and-coming actors and actress. Rooney Mara (“Friends (With Benefits)”) plays heroine Nancy Holbrook and does a good job running around scared and screaming. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Katie Cassidy (“Taken”), Kellan Lutz (“Twilight”), Thomas Dekker (“My Sister’s Keeper”) and Kyle Gallner (“The Haunting in Connecticut”). It is simply your standard cast of good looking 25 and under adults that don’t do much but get killed off.

The best acting performance belonged to Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen” and “Semi-Pro”) as Freddy Krueger. Haley was a little stiff early on in the film, but toward the end, he was able to pull off that violent, psychotic, sometimes-funny performance that Robert Englund made famous as the original Freddy. The only glaring weakness of the Krueger character was the mask that was supposed to resemble his burned face. It makes you think: “Is that really how good props have gotten in the last 26 years?”

Steve Jablonsky makes the movie way scarier than it actually is by controlling the music. There are scenes where you know that someone is going to be offed, but the music just does a tremendous job in keeping you in suspense. Jablonsky’s score is also an update from the original.

The one saving grace of this new version is that it is a lot darker. It follows the 90-minute horror film rule to a tee, which means a lot a gruesome kill scenes and a basic plot. The content level is raise a lot higher from the original and the sexual abuse and child molester themes makes it real serious.

Alas, I was hoping for more. If New Line Cinema wanted a remake, then that is exactly what they got. There will be two more films made in the future with Mara and Haley. Who knows what direction they will take the rebooted “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise in? Out of all the horror/slasher remakes that have been made over the last few years, I think Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” was the best because he challenged the original plot and had a lot of original ideas. There is still time to follow suit with the “The Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels.