Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Here's my lament. Since movies first began every generation has had their cinematic boogeymen. Be it Nosferatu, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Jason, Michael and of course Freddy, filmmakers have done a fine job, decade after decade, in making monsters. That's over now. My son, who is fourteen, doesn't have his own original movie boogeymen since he and his kind have to coattail on my generations boogeymen, and not only is that sad, it's pathetic. You mean to tell me that with all of the screenwriters that exist on the planet earth not a single one of them have dreamed up a decent franchisable horror villain? Come on movie studios, take a chance on something. Maybe it's just as well since Jigsaw has yielded seven 'Saw' movies in six years, each one worse than the one before, and 'Death' really isn't much a villain from the Final Destination flicks but still... wouldn't it be nice twenty years from now to be able to remake something from an original that was marginally successful today? Now what are you gonna do? That mindless rant is just a lead-in to today's horror remake, the artless, slow, completely humorless and pointless remake of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'.

Dean (Kellen Lutz) is at the diner trying like hell to stay awake. It's very convenient for us because all of the kids destined for death and torture in the movie are at this Diner on this rainy night. Nancy (Rooney Mara) is the waitress serving Dean coffee, Kris (Katie Kassidy) has just walked in the diner to meet with Dean about something or another, Jesse (Thomas Dekker) is upset with Kris for ending their relationship and Jesse is breaking bread with Quentin (Kyle Gallner) who has a crush on Nancy the waitress. Fantastic. Anyway Dean falls asleep at the table, meets up Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) and appears to slit his own throat while muttering nonsense right in front Kris.

Of course you know the routine as kids do everything in their power to stay awake while Freddy waits patiently for them to eventually fall asleep so that he can mess them up real bad. Why is Freddy hunting these poor high school kids in their mid-twenties? For starters it’s because Freddy is a dick, but if you need more of a reason it’s because Fred Krueger was accidentally burnt to death while being attacked by the angry parents of the kids he used to play with at the local daycare center, who thought Freddy was molesting these kids. Now Freddy wants revenge on every last one of those kids. Kids who didn’t do a damn thing to Freddy except maybe be molested by him. On top of that he wears the same hat sweater every single day, even if it’s hot outside… he wears it anyway. For you yung’ uns out there that was a ‘Nightmare on My Street’ reference from DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. The Fresh Freaking Prince. Proof positive that somebody needs a new boogeymen to franchise.

It seems to me if they really wanted to ‘re-imagine’ Elm Street they should’ve had Freddy attack the parents instead of the kids because THAT would offer a fresh new dynamic to the whole stale process. Folks freaking out at work by the coffee cooler, folks falling asleep in the Lay-Z-Boy before getting f’d up… that’s a movie that offers possibilities. Anyway, we know before hand that Nancy is our final girl as she was Fred Krueger’s favorite back in the day, so the onus is thrust upon her frail shoulders to find a way to stop Freddy, a cat who seems completely invincible in the world that he exists in. Will Nancy succeed? Well, we know that she kicked Fred’s ass in the original movie and kicked his ass so completely and thoroughly that he only managed to show up in six movies after that so…

My friends, we can complain all day long about the tragedy and soullessness of a remake, and we do, but accepting this practice as an inevitable fact, it would still be nice if the remake that we are watching managed to do something for us. So my initial problem with this re-imagining of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is that it’s dull. We see a total of three kids get murdered up in this movie so this particular film isn’t a festival of blood which could’ve been a good thing. Director Simon Bayer opted instead to build on tension and atmosphere and while the atmosphere that the director crafted was cool, most of the time the tension was almost always non-existent. It is difficult to generate tension when almost everything that is going to happen is painfully predictable. When a character is shining a flashlight in the dark we know full well that on one of those sweeps that Freddy is going to show up, with the challenge to find a way to do this and still surprise us, but the challenge wasn’t met. This movie follows rote generic horror movie convention to a fault. It also didn’t help that zero time was spent building up any character in this movie, including Freddy, and it’s not like there wasn’t time to do this, so that when something bad did happen to these cute kids who really cared?

I’m not even here to tell you that the original ‘Elm Street’ was all that great. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s slightly overrated, but what made the Craven classic unique was the concept of real live boogeyman hunting you in your dreams and Robert Englund’s droll humor as Freddy Krueger. I was seventeen when I saw Elm Street, so I also remember Heather Langenkamp’s side boobs, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, obviously the uniqueness of a dream killer is gone because we are eight movies in now, with the only thing really separating this from the original is Jackie Earle Haley making Freddy a charmless serial killer. Which makes Freddy Krueger like every other horror movie serial killer ever created. Which makes this remake of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ like every other single slasher flick ever created... except ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’.

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