A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Nightmare Reinvented

It’s about time I got around to this. Anyways, late last month the promised remake of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street hit the theaters, bringing the dream terrors to a new age. Samuel Bayer steps into Wes Craven’s shoes to direct the film, bringing in the legend from Watchmen, Jackie Earl Haley, to take up the role of the beloved Freddy Krueger. Much concern was flagged at the mention of this remake, especially after what a flop the Friday the 13th had been (seriously, that wasn’t a remake; it should have been a bad sequel). The A Nightmare on Elm Street series was one of the reasons I became such a huge horror fan, and to this day remains as my favorite horror series of all time, mostly because of how awesome Freddy is. You can imagine how I must have felt when I first heard of the remake: skeptical. However, much to my surprise, this new nightmare wasn’t at all a disappointment, and I’ll let you in on why.

The plot pretty much follows the typical Freddy-movie format: teenage kids are being terrorized in their dreams and must find a way to stop Freddy before falling asleep. In this particular movie, a lot of it follows very closely to the original Nightmare movie, however not so much that it would make it a carbon copy. In fact, there are some very significant changes that have been made plot and character-wise which allow for this movie to stand on its own. Many of the characters are only loosely based off of their original counterparts, and the remaining characters are completely new in their own merit, including Freddy. Many kudos for them taking these creative liberties.

Speaking of Freddy, one of the biggest concerns I’ve heard was: “How the hell can there be a Freddy movie without Englund?” I, too, even shared this complaint. Even when I heard that Jackie Earl Haley would be playing the new Freddy, I had my doubts that he could live up to Robert Englund’s legacy. However, when I finally saw it, he was beautiful (fourth-degree burns aside). From the get-go, it was clear that Haley’s Freddy was much, much darker than the wise-cracking Freddy we had all gotten used to over the decades. This Freddy was a lot scarier, more intimidating, and darker than ever, but he does have his moments. (“Did you know that when the heart dies, the brain can live for seven minutes? That leaves us six minutes to play!”). Another thing I really noticed about the new Freddy is that, this time around, he is a lot angrier, and with good reason. Lets just say that his motives have changed (and have become a lot more focused, I must say), which affects his overall character, leading him to become the Evil Freddy of the original, raised to the power of ten. Yeah, it gets pretty intense.

One thing I particularly liked about this remake was all the homages it paid back to the original series, even if they were just brief scenes. We get Nancy in the bathtub with Freddy’s hand; we get the the bloody body bag sliding around the high school; and we even get another surprise toward the end that you’ll just have to wait and see.

However, like with any remake, there are many aspects in which it fails to live up to the original. At times the plot seems rushed, and at other times it drags on; at times the complete lack of suspense bores the audience, and at other times it relies on shock value; some of the characters we would have like to have seen expanded upon were killed off too fast, and others weren’t killed fast enough. But I digress, this isn’t the fault of the remake; it is a common mistake made in many horror movies, so I won’t grade too hard on this. 

Overall, I would say that, for a remake, I was greatly satisfied with this movie. It did not disappoint me in any way, and I felt that it didn’t ruin the original for me at all. In fact, it made me want to see more of this new concept. The new A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise successfully revamped a classic series, bringing it to a younger generation, and prepared everybody for a new spin of the famed horror icon, a direction that I am personally excited to see more of. If I had to give it a grade, I would seriously give it a fat 7/10 for being on of the best remakes I have seen in a long time. While it will never top the original series, while Haley will never be a better Freddy than Englund, they can certainly do their best to live up to them. For everybody that didn’t like the movie, just know that you will always have the original Nightmares to rely on.