As one of those folks who bristle every time they hear the word remake, I wasn’t expecting much from Michael Bay-and-pals’ take on A Nightmare On Elm Street. Wes Craven’s original still stands up on its own merits, for starters, and then there’s the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger in a “re-imagining” of a character completely synonymous with Robert Englund. The good news, though, is that if one can look past the fact this is happening and tolerate Haley rasping through a melted face very different to the original, the film is surprisingly effective.
Benefiting from the update to a contemporary setting, A Nightmare On Elm Street works due to its killer combination of fatal dreamscapes and the character of Krueger himself. It’s great to see some iconic scenes faithfully recreated even if one in particular, Krueger looming out from inside the wall above a sleeping teen’s bed, shows that average CGI is a poor replacement for a clever practical effect.
Nightmare’s not completely faithful though, taking liberties when it feels like it, but does well to overlook the much more comedic entries in this series of films. Krueger’s back-story may seem unnecessarily fleshed out in a case of the remake opting to explain a bit too much, but he displays a deeper level of predatory sadism here that reflects his upgrading of creep from child-killer to child-molester. Haley just ain’t no Englund, no matter how much he tries.