Haters gonna hate...
Is this much riddled remake of the original Wes Craven classic as bad as everyone says it is? It was panned by everyone but especially A Nightmare On Elm Street fans upon release but made a healthy profit, so was it really so horrible? No way. Directed by Samuel Bayer, who was behind the camera of many music videos for such artists as Justin Timberlake, Blink 182, Green Day, David Bowie and Metallica... to name a few. He's no slouch and artistically it's very strong but this is his first foray into feature films. Bayer tells a very similar story but with some new ideas thrown in.
Still set in Springwood, a group of teenagers are being attacked and murdered in their dreams by a man with horrific burn scars who has a glove with knives for fingers and wears a fedora hat and a red and green sweater: Freddy Krueger. What's not known to the group is that their parents killed and set Freddy on fire while alive for apparent molesting their kids while he was a janitor at the pre-school they attended. Now Freddy's here for revenge and is out to kill the parents' kids where they can't be protected; in their dreams. Only Nancy, Freddy's favourite, can put an end to this or die trying.
Fans were disappointed with almost everything they tried in this movie and one was the revelation that Freddy molested the children. One of the things that was slightly different to the 'final cut' of the original film was that Freddy Krueger actually was a kiddy fiddler, he didn't just kill them. This was the original backstory for Freddy in the 80s Elm Street but due to a child molestation case ongoing at the time, Wes Craven dropped that part of the story. To me it was interesting and made sense but to a lot of fans, it was disappointing. They wanted Freddy to be the innocent victim and be wrongly blamed for the crimes, which in theory is a good idea and could've worked.
Micro naps which was briefly explored in previous instalments, is given more coverage here. There is more than a little nod to the original. A good few scenes are taken directly from the original including the infamous bathtub scene and Tina's bedroom death were redone. The one thing they never should've copied was Freddy leaning through the wall onto Nancy. It just looked really amateur with the terrible CGI.
The cast did a decent enough job. Most impressive were Katie Cassidy (Arrow) and Kyle Gallner (Jennifer's Body). I wish Katie played the role of Nancy as she showed a lot of depth in her character and was interesting to watch. She wasn't just blank and uninteresting like Rooney Mara's.
Criticism of Rooney Mara is valid. Her performance was very empty and unmotivated but I guess that's probably how the character was supposed to be but the problem with that trait is she is carrying the whole movie on her shoulders. Once a couple of people were killed off, the movie was less interesting. Post script with Rooney, she gave an interview where she stated she gave a lousy audition on purpose in hoping she wouldn't get the part but she was cast – without A Nightmare On Elm Street, I highly doubt she would've been in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
As usual, Kyle Gallner was very good. His performance was very believable as a teen who is fighting to stay alive. His crush on Nancy was fun to watch too.
Then there's Freddy. Despite fans saying you can't do this film without Robert Englund, and still ongoing to this day, the new Freddy – Jackie Earle Haley, brings the scary back into the role like Krueger originally was meant to be. He doesn't speak too often but when he does it means something and has a malevolent and creepiness feel to it. Not to mention, his scars look much more realistic compared to previous Elm Street instalments. I think a lot of fans were disappointed because it wasn't Robert Englund; well he can't play Freddy forever.
Was also a great pleasure to see Connie Britton (Nashville, American Horror Story) and Clancy Brown (Shawshank Redemption, Highlander) in the film as parents with a secret.
The film is not without faults. Rooney Mara like I've mentioned and the terrible CGI in the Freddy leaning through the wall scene. Thomas Dekker as Jesse really had no depth to his role and came off as very annoying and boring, I guess much like Mara and that is thus the problem with the characters – they're very bland but that's partly due to the story. The only emotion he conveyed was jealousy.
Not so much a criticism but just a general observation; the use of the Gigablast search engine, it literally made everyone in the cinema chuckle. Has anyone even heard of Gigablast? I guess the production didn't want to spend the money to use more relevant search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Overall, it's not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. Is it a perfect film? No. Better than the original? Hell no, but while Samuel Bayer and crew did get a little lazy with the redone scenes, there was enough new ideas in the movie for it to be quite entertaining.
The backlash towards the remake made sure there would never be a sequel, even though it was in the works, but the news of restarting the franchise again is either a good thing or bad thing. Time will tell.