I liked this movie upon walking out of the theater in 2010. I liked it a lot more than Platinum Dune’s Friday the 13th remake a year prior. I had zero hopes going into a Nightmare on Elm St. without a Robert Englund as the lovable child killer that haunted many a dreams since 1984. Yet, I was open minded and went in and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, despite its flaws.
Now, I haven’t seen it since and it is with good reason, I wanted to see how it would hold up. I’ve had the opportunity to see the original Nightmare on Elm St. in theaters, thanks to a local place showing it a couple years ago and I had to admit, if I had seen it in 1984, I most likely wouldn’t of left as a fan. I mean, all the flaws up on the big screen were so much worse than on a small screen with a VHS tape. If anything, VHS is what helped it become a classic, because the darker images helped to hide the flaws better.
Personally and I know I am in the minority, I think the film hold up. In some ways, it holds up better than the original. The CGI doesn’t hold up, some of the dialogue is horrific. The acting that I thought was horrible back in the day, seems a lot better by today’s standards.
The story is too short and very derivative of the source material with a few of additions. This is a damn if you do, damned if you don’t situation though. If you don’t fan service enough, the fans get pissed. If you fan service too much, the fans get pissed. More often than not, the fans will revolt, but that’s just kind of the times we live in now. Although, it’s more noticeable than it was in decades prior to, because the internet is a thing. If you type in Usenet and Return of the Jedi into Google, you will find people complained about Return on the Jedi on ye olde 80’s internet with similar terms we use today, like Flaming.
The best acting belongs to Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Freddy Kruger and damn right fuckin’ well! It was a hard pill to swallow that Robert Englund would not return, but to be fair, this was going to have to happen one day, as currently, people cannot live forever. This was a fantastic choice. Albeit it, he was better as Dream Demon Freddy than the human Freddy.
The rest of the actors put in very good performances, but sadly, none are overly memorable. Part of this, I believe, is the fault of the writers, not developing the characters enough to be likable. One original criticism of the series, was that the film starts when the kids are already being tormented by Freddy vs the original one when they. This is only a slightly valid criticism. While it is true that the kids had not had their souls entirely crushed by Freddy already, the opening sequence is Tina being tormented by Freddy. That is exactly how the remake opens. I believe what these people really mean when they express this criticism, is that the characters are not your run of the mill, emo teens. They’re your average, normal, realistic teenager, who are then hunted and killed by a dream demon.
One of my biggest problems with the movie in 2010 was the Freddy Make up. I’ve come to appreciate it, eight years later and it looks even better than it did then. Still, it has room for improvement. Another flaw was some of the dialogue, which is cringe worthy, but thankfully it keeps itself to a minimum and most comes from Freddy of all people. Lines like “You smell different.” Could have been omitted from the final product, but still, those lines are few and far between.
The visuals are fantastic, given that the director, Sam Bayer had only done music videos, this could have been a very dated looking flick, since music videos have the bad habit of being “trendy” and going with the visuals of the time. The lovely style is very Nightmare on Elm St, but with a less noir look and holds up over the years. The clothes aren’t dated, albeit the teenage attitudes are. A little bit more depth and a longer movie could of rectified this and made for a even better film as I said above.
One of the cooler aspects is that the remake didn’t shy away from making Freddy a full on pedophile. The original had that added subtext and in a lot of ways, that was a better to do it, but while it isn’t subtext in this film, it isn’t overly in your face either. This makes Kruger a very unlikable character than the one most people became fans of and ultimately leads to a far scarier Freddy again, which became missing sometime after part three of the original series. It also has the better and cooler ending!
Overall, it is one of the better entries in the series and as a fan, I enjoyed the care that was taken to bringing the character back to his roots, even if the remake, like the 1984 original was flawed as hell. Most of the problems surrounding film boarders on nitpicking. I was happy just to have Freddy back on the big screen and really would have liked to have seen a sequel to this by now. Since a sequel to this is unlikely, I for one welcome another reboot. Kevin Bacon wouldn’t be that bad of a Freddy at all, since that rumor mill has been swirling for a while now. Regardless, I hope whatever we get is going to be just as fun and will improve upon the minute flaws within this movie.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.