Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language, 95 minutes
"Nightmare" overly familiar, a mess of cliches
The new horror remake "A Nightmare of Elm Street" will no doubt instill memories with those who enjoyed the iconic original 1984 film, not to mention its six sequels. The unnecessary, mildly entertaining new "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is not near as memorable or fun as the original film, lacking considerable flavor (not to mention superstar Johnny Depp before he came who he was). Though there are a few good jumpy moments, this time out Freddy Krueger doesn't pull any big surprises.
Set in present day, this "Nightmare" follows Freddy Krueger (a raspy Jackie Earle Haley) as he stalks the dreams of Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her pals and they soon discover that all of them share a common link to Freddy from their childhood. They were all sexually abused by Freddy and then hunted down and murdered by their vengeful parents. However, Freddy comes back as a supernatural force in their dreams, hunting down and killing the ones who told their parents, leaving Nancy for last.
Michael Bay remakes "A Nightmare on Elm Street" to expose younger audiences to Freddy Krueger, much like he successfully did with "Friday the 13th" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." He's a little more successful here mainly due to the novel storyline and fun character in Freddy. The only thing is, this "Nightmare" isn't as amusing, interesting or memorable as the first film. The re-imagined "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is entertainingly predictable, empty and lacking a fresh vibe.
That's not to say you won't jump, you will many times and those long metal fingers look pretty nasty but maybe it has to do with Freddy himself. Robert Englund, who played the original Freddy, camped it up more and had a nice sarcastic tone, and while the new Freddy, played by Haley, is OK, he takes things too seriously, speaking in a deep, gravely voice and making pithy, stilted comments to the victims. The dream sequences are bloody, remarkably brief and predictably awkward (you always have a sense of what - and who - is coming).
The new "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is modestly enjoyable enough to be a hit and likely restart this franchise all over again. As Freddy himself would say, what goes around comes around. But you've been down this street before, is it really necessary to go down it again?