WARNING: This post CONTAINS SPOILERS for "A Nightmare on Elm Street," the largest one being this: It's poop. If you don't want to get spoiled, keep moving. There's nothing to see here.
First and foremost, you should know that I absolutely love the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and, for some reason, had high hopes for this franchise relaunch.
The movie's production company, Platinum Dunes, is responsible for almost all of the classic horror movie franchise relaunches including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Halloween. And while all of those films aren't necessarily perfect, they are at the very least fun and somewhat faithful to the originals.
But this...sigh. This is just a mishmash of horribly executed ideas. Here are ten shining examples.
10. Not one nod to Robert Englund: I understand that it could have come across as being a bit cheesy, but Robert Englund is and forever will be Freddy Krueger, just as Bela Lugosi will always be Dracula or Lon Chaney will always be the Wolfman. To put this movie together and not even throw him a one-liner bone is a big fuck you to the guy. With that being said, with the quality of the product being what it is, Englund should consider himself lucky.
9. Acting even I could have phoned in: Other than Jackie Earle Haley, I didn't recognize one person on the cast. Of course, that could have potentially meant for a great thing, especially considering that the original cast was made up entirely of no ones (including a fresh-faced Johnny Depp). But they didn't just cast no ones for these roles; they cast a gang of kids who appear to have just gotten off the bus from Nebraska. Kids who moved here to "live the dream" because they once landed a bit part in their church Christmas play. If I'm thinking "I could act better than anyone up there" while I'm watching a movie, that is a bad sign!
8. Cool credits ruined by shitty credits: This is definitely an art geek thing, but the opening credits were really nice. The sequence was filmed well, edited well, and the credits themselves were creepy, childlike handwriting written in chalk on concrete. Truly a nice bit of work for whoever put them together. Unfortunately, someone (most likely a studio exec who thought that bit of artistry would be hard to read) decided to then place a crappy standard font over it all with the exact same words. So, for instance, you'd see "Jackie Earle Haley" handwritten all creepy-like on concrete, and then floating over that shot the same words would come up typed out in an easy-to-read font. It's a little thing, but it's indicative of a huge lesson that Hollywood needs to learn: Leave the art to the artists, the business to the suits.
7. Make-up that looks like it was created for a high school musical: Sorry, folks, but Freddy looks exactly like Jackie Earle Haley in a rubber mask. Yeah, they added a small amount of crispy burnt flesh with some CG that looks alright, but for the most part two words kept going through my mind: Halloween costume.
6. Freddy isn't a child murderer: Read that again: FREDDY ISN'T A CHILD MURDERER! At his scariest, Freddy is a pedophile gardener who leaves scratches on kids. Sure, that definitely doesn't make him the nicest guy in the world, but what made Freddy scary to kids was that he killed kids! Now he's about as scary as a fedora-wearing Catholic priest.
5. Freddy isn't even scary: Beyond the gardening pedophile aspect mentioned above, Freddy doesn't even look scary. Maybe it's because Jackie Earle Haley is too short, too skinny, too childlike. But any of these aspects could have been "fixed" with smart lighting and camera angles. They weren't. Instead, we're expected to be scared of a guy who weighs no more Tori Spelling and is no taller than Ryan Seacrest.
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4. Token and cheap nods to classic scenes: The film paid homage to a few classic scenes from the first movie (Freddy's hand popping out of the water in the bathtub; Freddy pushing through the wall above the bed; etc.), but they're handled carelessly. Instead of it coming across as a true homage it felt like it was more of a decision where they thought, "Well, this worked in the first one so we should do that again," to make up for the fact that everything surrounding it is pure drivel. For more on this thought jump to #2.
3. Loud noises aren't scary: They're not! Sure, I'll jump if a loud-as-fuck bang goes off next to my ear, but that doesn't mean I'm scared! It only means that you're an untalented asshole who relies heavily on cheap frights to cover up the fact that you don't know how to write a truly scary story.
2. It's confused and conflicted: If you want to do a complete relaunch, fine! If you want to do a remake, do it! But you can't have it both ways and this movie tried to do just that. They have some of the elements of the original (specific character names, scenes and even lines of dialogue), but the rest of it is just a fuck-all, throwing caution into the wind and hoping that something, anything sticks. It feels like they made a brand-new horror movie completely unrelated to anything with the franchise and then thought it would be cool if they just threw in a bunch of references and parody scenes from the first movie. It doesn't know what it wants to be (relaunch vs. remake, new vs. old, serious vs. slapsticky, etc.) and the viewer is left not caring about one second of it.
1. It sucks: That pretty much sums it up. Those two simple words should have been my entire review because it would have saved me a shitload of time.