A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The teenagers of Springwood are having nightmares. However, these are nightmares they aren’t waking up from. A mysterious man in a striped sweater, wearing a Fedora and wielding a glove with knives on its fingers is terrorizing them. And when he kills them in their dreams, they die in real life. As the kids deal with insomnia and persistent fear, they learn the town’s dirty little secret of the man in their dreams, Freddy Krueger.
WHAT I LIKED
I have been a huge fan of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series since I was in school in the 1980s. In fact, a couple years ago when the “Friday the 13th” remake came out, a lot of my horror movie buddies threw out the “Freddy or Jason?” question the way music fans throw out the “Elvis or The Beatles?” question. For me, it’s Freddy and Elvis every time.
While I have some major beefs with this remake (see below for more on that), I did find several elements of the film to have been done effectively. First, the movie shines with its dream sequences, which utilize digital effects incredibly well. Also, where the earlier films tried this and often failed, the “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake was able to switch between dream and reality almost seamlessly.
Also, even though he takes the role a little too seriously, Jackie Earle Haley does a good job as Freddy Krueger. Haley is hardly an imposing figure, but he manages to bring a presence to the film that is both foreboding and chilling. And I’m okay with a horror movie villain who doesn’t resort to wisecracking and silliness, which the original Freddy Krueger fell into far too deep.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
When I first saw this remake with an audience of teenagers who had never seen a Freddy Krueger movie that wasn’t on DVD or VHS, I saw why it did well. This was essentially new material for them, and if I had seen it in a vacuum, I probably would have enjoyed it more. But coming at this film with all the “Nightmare” films that preceded it, and I just was left cold.
My biggest problem was that I didn’t give a hoot about any of the characters. I know that’s nothing new for a “Nightmare” movie, and as the sequels wore on, the teenagers become nothing more than slasher fodder. But I still like the characters from the first film, and these kids were cardboard shadows of them.
Finally, the story makes Krueger a child molester rather than a child killer, which never quite sat right with me. I understand this was Wes Craven’s original vision before he sanitized the crimes in 1984, but going from the psychology of adoring children so much to a psychotic level to just killing them seemed like a leap for me. Maybe if Krueger brought that element to the nightmares it would have made more sense.
The best special feature on this disc is the “Maniacal Movie Mode,” which is the slasher version of Warner’s “Maximum Movie Mode.” This includes interviews, behind the scenes and commentary on the film’s process.
Also included in the special features is an alternate opening and alternate ending with additional footage. There’s also a stand-alone documentary about the making of the film called “Freddy Krueger Reborn.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Teenagers who have never really experienced the original films.