With Hollywood remaking so many old horror movie franchises, the formula they apply is becoming more easily recognizable: first, you cast a bunch of relative unknown actors (example: Halloween); then you tweak the story just a little bit to keep it fresh, making it feasible and contemporary (example: The Crazies); and while paying homage to the original, you raise the stakes for both the characters and the creativity of their gory deaths. A Nightmare On Elm Street has an unknown cast and the story has a new little twist on it, but it lacks in the creativity-slash-originality areas.
A Nightmare On Elm Street is a graphically violent telling of the “Pied Piper Of Hamelin,” a fairytale from the Middle Ages about a man who lured a village’s children away after the townsfolk turned their backs on him. Freddy Kruger, the “Pied Piper” of Elm Street’s fairytale has a vendetta against the town – a reason that you must see the movie to understand. Being dead, Freddy has no power in the “real” world. His domain is in the dream world. When his victims sleep, they enter his world. And whatever violent thing he does to them in the dream world happens to them in the real world.
The opening of Elm Street gives every enthusiastic fan what he or she wants to see in this remake – razor-glove wielding Freddy Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen) mentally and physically taunting a clueless sleep-deprived teenager. After this kid meets his disturbing demise, a group of unlikely students are all brought together by one common thing – they all suffer from the same terrifying nightmare of a scarred and burned man in a striped sweater wearing a glove with razor fingers. Working together, the group of teens must find a way to stop Freddy before they succumb to sleep.
A Nightmare On Elm Street suffers the same problems as Rob Zombie’s terrible Halloween remakes – the dull characters and drab story fall flat on their face – the only difference being A Nightmare On Elm Street still maintains an intensity and entertainment that is completely absent in Halloween.
A bad formula for characters is applied in Elm Street. Each time we meet a new character, that character steals the emphasis for a long period, then dies. This happens several times before we meet the “actual” central characters (which happens approximately halfway into the film). Even these characters lack any quality that would cause an audience to root for them. We simply sit back and watch them, hoping to see some unique deaths along the way.
But, no. That doesn’t happen either. One of the fun things about the old Elm Street movies was watching the writers invent creative new ways for the teenagers to die. Here, just like Zombie’s Halloween, it is the same thing over and over again. Slicing and stabbing. Slicing and stabbing. Nothing more. Shall the studio choose to make a sequel to this Nightmare reboot, let us hope they get creative.
The word “mediocre” best describes A Nightmare On Elm Street. If the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a good horror reboot and the 2007 Rob Zombie Halloween was an awful horror reboot, then A Nightmare On Elm Street would be right in the middle. It is not terrible, but it is not great either. If you are a fan of the Elm Street franchise or horror movies in general, then you know what you are getting into.
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures