Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 7 Gloves
A man murdered by avenging parents for what he did to their children, haunts the dreams of the now-teenaged kids for revenge.
Well now. Some of us cut our teeth on Freddy Krueger and his movies as far as beginning horror freaks go. Despite him only directing like 2-3 of the actual movies, I’m a huge fan of Wes Craven and he began a legacy with this whole storyline. I also always thought the finest Freddy movie was Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, wherein Heather Langencamp has to play Nancy in real life just one last time, because some demonic force in the real world chose Freddy as its host. Despite all that, I was willing to give this new re-imagining of the horror icon that IS Freddy Krueger a try.
It’s not a failure, not exactly. But what is the point of a re-imagining where there’s hardly anything new? The original Freddy and those movies were 1980’s horror icons: the fedora, the striped sweater, the glove of course, that burned visage, Robert Englund’s laugh, and so on. And this new movie kept all that, except for Robert Englund. But no new and separate style has been brought to the movie itself, they kept trying to fold together iconic things from Freddy’s world: the rhyme, the little girls in pinafores, the boiler room, etc; together with action and chase scene shots done in Wes Craven’s original style like the Scream movies, but with modern sensibilities thrown in miss-mash as well. Like the scene where Nancy finds one of the preschool kids, now a teen-ager, with an online blog going on about his nightmares and how he’s terrified of sleeping. Or when the kids, now petrified of sleeping, filch vials of adrenaline from the hospital and proceed to shoot themselves up in the thigh, and this is after taking who knows how much ADHD speed equivalent to stay awake too.
There’s a whole period in the movie where a few of the damaged kids are actually trying to convince their parents that Freddy was innocent and they lied, and a whole remembrance scene where Fred Krueger is chased down by the angry parents and the building he’s hiding in is set on fire. Now, stay with me, because we horror-philes all know one thing: Freddy is a villain, and never apologized for it. So that didn’t help. Most potential new fans of the genre and Freddy in particular, after cutting their teeth on other horror powerhouses like the Saw series, seeing this new Nightmare, simply aren’t going to be scared. The movie directors actually seemed to shy away from the truly terrible parts, like the pictures Freddy took of Nancy when she was a preschooler. Sure that would’ve been truly horrifying, but that’s the point isn’t it? If you can have a horror icon that stalks kids in their dreams and kills them like a bear would, in slices, you simply can’t flinch away from something like child pornography; wuss.
Jackie Earle Haley, of Watchmen and Shutter Island and Human Target fame, does his best to bring star power to the role of Freddy Krueger. And yes, he does manage to come off as more scary than psycho-jester, like a lot of the latter Freddy movies did. He’s a lot shorter and his human-Freddy looks a lot more diffident, the burn makeup is noticeably different, and he has his own iconic laugh now. It’s not his fault that the movie itself isn’t scary, he did manage to make the new Freddy at least partially so. Rooney Mara of Youth in Revolt fame stars as the new Nancy, and while she looks rather similar, frankly I just miss Heather Langencamp. Kyle Gallner of Big Love and Smallville and Jennifer’s Body stardom does pretty well as Quentin, who ends up helping Nancy save the day. (Or night, they were asleep.) And we have Thomas Dekker of Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles fame as one of the disbelieving kids who gets sliced and diced.
All in all, this new Nightmare is alright. Nothing brand new to knock your socks off, and frankly I think the original Freddy would just laugh contemptuously before slicing the film into ribbons. But hopefully this new Nightmare will follow the trend set by the original and spawn a whole host of sequels that get crazier for each one! A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) gets a rating of seven gloves, for trying.