Movie Review: "A Nightmare on Elm Street"

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One, Two it’s déjà vu for this review. Three, Four a killer is going to settle a score. Five, Six this time Freddy’s got some new…. Oh wait we’ve seen this trick before. Okay maybe not exactly the same but just like a puzzle of sorts mixed up and put together different than before with a few new twists to the original. Wes Craven’s favorite menace, Freddy Krueger, played by Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target, The Watchers) is being re-imagined for a new generation with the help of first time feature film director Samuel Bayer and story by Wesley Strick (Doom, The Glass House) and first time screenwriter Eric Heisserer. This leaves much to the imagination and speculation when you have a lot of new faces behind the scenes.

Freddy is back and this time with a little more zeal. Stalking his prey thru their dreams as they themselves try to decipher what’s real. Nancy Holbrook and Quentin Smith, played by Rooney Mara (Tanner Hall, Youth in Revolt) and newcomer Kyle Gallner respectively, are trying to unravel the mystery of their friends dying horrible deaths while they sleep. All the while they are trying to stay awake and not fall victim to the fate that has taken many young people they were close too and those they were separated from. We always wonder and are afraid of our nightmares but sometimes they are based on the truths and secrets around us. Venture if you will to see the tale.

Rounding out the characters of this new telling of a classic horror film is; the blond with a brain but not much wit Kris Fowles, played by Katie Cassidy; Kris’ bad boy ex whom she gets back together with, Jesse Braun, played by Thomas Dekker (My Sister’s Keeper, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Quentin’s secretive and protective father, Dean Russell, played by Clancy Brown (The Informant!, The Express); the even more secretive mother of Nancy, Dr. Gwen Holbrook, played by Connie Britton; and with a brief stint in the film, Kellan Lutz (New Moon, Twilight) as Dean Russell. Helping Bayer bring this re-tell of a tale to life is producers Michael Bay (Transformers, Friday the 13th), Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller (Friday the 13th, The Unborn); the ambiance of the film scored by Steve Jablonsky (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Friday the 13th ); special makeup effects artist Andrew Clement (Star Trek, Cloverfield); visual effects supervisor Sean Faden (Terminator Salvation, The Amityville Horror); production designer Patrick Lumb (Valkyrie, The Omen) and costume design by Mari-An Ceo (Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning).

Now that the technical things are set aside lets break down this film. Or did the film breakdown itself? It is one of those things you have to ask when seeing a re-make or re-imagination or whatever you want to all it these days. Hmmm….how to put this in lay mans terms, decent comes to mind. Some might say okay, good, watchable, etc. In all it truly is a fun film to watch, if you can call a horror film fun. It is easy to see why Wes Craven has not stepped up to truly embrace this film as the character is his child and you want to protect your child much like the parent s portrayed in the film. But Wes, come on, you know if you had a little involvement, this could have been huge. I’ll move on. In any case it is a good showing.

For those of us who grew up with the original franchise and have seen them all, in some cases many a time, guilty, it is interesting to see how they weave the original elements of the first film and some tidbits of the second together. More so how they take the original and in a way change the time of events and change the story just enough to make you go, “hey wait a minute”. Now I do like how the film starts out with a bit of a cliché by having the scene filled with red and green light fillers. For those new it is part of the original of whenever you saw a lot of red and green it was the tall tell sign you weren’t in Kansas anymore. Also note that taking, at the time (1984), special effects were nowhere near what can be done now. Case in point, a classic part of the original with Freddy seemingly stretching thru the wall is redone to the extreme and amazingly so, I might add. It has its moments of a good horror film by of course scaring the bah-Jesus out of you. Yes, even I jumped the first time our buddy Freddy appears. Add to that the eerie underscore by Jablonsky and it truly does pay off to watch the women jump out of their seats at times. One aspect I truly admire about is something that bugged me from the original, did Freddy do it? Guess you’ll have to watch to find out.

As for the acting, the cast pulls off their parts well. You can’t say they were Oscar worthy, although some of my fellow Comedia friends might think so (that’s a joke), but the cast does an outstanding job. Haley as Freddy is going to creep out a lot of new initiates to the Freddy lore. Mara does a great job of filling the role of the female lead that will save the day. But surprisingly enough I am looking forward to Gallner and his next adventure. As was another young star that got a break in the original (rhymes with slept), Gallner may have just opened up a new door of opportunity.

Where does this all lead to? Should you go see this film? Will you give it an honest opinion? Yes, you should. I was optimistic about this when I first heard they were going to make it. I’m happy I held an open mind. Could it have been better? Of course it could have, as I mentioned before. All in all though, it is a movie that can stand on its own. For those who have seen the original it will be fun to remember the first time you just about… okay I won’t get that detailed but you had to change your pants. And those who have never seen the original and of course the new generation, you are in for a treat. This film delves into the psyche of something we all worry about, our dreams. What is real and what is in our subconscious. It is how we live our lives that feed our dreams or nightmares. Live well and they will help you. Live by the sword and….well (Evil grin). Seven, Eight go and make a date. Nine, Ten Freddy’s coming again.

P.S. For those of you still trying to figure out the rhymes with, Johnny Depp’s first feature film was the original.