The Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise began in 1984 with Robert Englund starring as Freddy Krueger, whilst in the role he played Freddy at least eight times (the final time being in Freddy Vs Jason in 2003). The franchise had its ups and downs but it effectively ran out of steam and seemingly was allowed to die, however, after the revivals of Halloween and Friday 13th, it was inevitable that Freddy would return to our screens.
When I reviewed Freddy Vs Jason I gave it a Thumbs Up despite giving it an average 5/10 rating, this was because I have to admit I like Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, yes he is tongue-in-cheek, not scary, and doesn’t really come across as threatening but he is at least fun. I remember (vaguely) one of the original Nightmare on Elm Street films in which a disabled boy always dreams that he can walk and is a wizard, he uses his magic to attack Freddy and seems to be fighting him off when Freddy tells him he [Freddy] doesn’t believe in magic and kills the boy. Did he let the kid think he could win just to fuck with him?? I don’t know but it would probably amuse Freddy to give the kid hope before taking it away from him again. What most people don’t remember is that in the original 1984 film Englund played Freddy much straighter and it was only in later incarnations that Freddy became a more tongue-in-cheek and a less sinister villain.
In the reboot, Freddy has returned to those dark roots, does this work to reawaken the franchise??
Read on and I’ll tell you but first here's the story...
Dean (Kellan Lutz) dozes off whilst in a diner with his girlfriend Kris (Katie Cassidy), and whilst asleep he dreams about a man with horrific burns and a hand with five razor sharp blades on the fingers. Whilst in his sleep he is killed and his friends begin to realise that the dream he described before he died sounds chillingly familiar.
Several other teens including Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Jesse (Thomas Dekker) also begin to experience nightmares centred around the same burnt figure. They begin to realise that they are being stalked in their dreams by a man named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), and if they fall asleep he has the power to actually kill them.
Unfortunately the body requires sleep to survive and within seventy hours they will start to have micro-naps, which means they’ll be asleep even though they are awake, and eventually they will fall into a coma. As one by one they fall asleep Freddy hunts them down leaving the survivors to try and figure out what he wants and how to destroy him.
The eighties gave the world the slasher films with the unkillable bad guy, and saw so many sequels that the films became almost indistinguishable from one another. Halloween was the first to be resurrected as a reimagining of the original and offered a different slant on the character of Michael Myers with Friday the 13th following too but truth be told I have not seen either of those so cannot tell you how they compare to the originals.
This version of Nightmare on Elm Street is basically exactly the same as every other version, and as anyone who has seen one of the films will know the basic plot is as follows: teens die in their sleep, the survivors tell of the burnt man, more teens die, the remaining teens try to stay awake, they find a way to apparently destroy Freddy, Freddy is killed only to return in the closing few moments...Rinse, lather, repeat...
What was rather frustrating about this film was that there was a very good idea dropped in about midway through which would have taken the franchise into new territory. It was suggested that Freddy might have actually been innocent and the kids wrongly accused him, personally I think this was a great idea, it turns Freddy into more of a bogyman type villain who will stalk and kill children who tell lies to their parents. The film seemed to say: “What if Freddy was innocent and murdered by vengeful parents for nothing?”, then five minutes later, waved its hand indifferently and went “Nah, he was guilty as sin”. Why attempt to reboot a franchise if you are only going to tell the story of the original film? People have already seen that story and are hoping that this film will offer something different because otherwise what is the point of doing a reboot??
Jackie Earle Haley steps into the role of Freddy Krueger and yes he can be pretty sinister. I especially like the bit when he kills one of the teens in the dream world and then proceeds to tell him that his brain will be alive for another seven minutes (it is actually ten but what is three minutes) so Freddy can continue to torture him remorselessly until his brain dies.
It is a decent enough film, and if you are unfamiliar with the original then you will probably enjoy it but it is nothing fans of the original haven’t seen before. It is a reboot that seems ultimately pointless, there is nothing new to add to the story, or the character of Freddy. The teens are forgettable and the one idea that I would have liked to have seen developed was dropped a few minutes after introducing it.
In my opinion, there was a reason that the slasher genre died off, because it had nothing new to add, and this film, for me at least, certainly doesn’t breathe new life into a franchise that has had its day.
I enjoyed Freddy Vs Jason but returning Freddy to his serious roots just doesn’t do anything to reinvent or re-imagine the character so overall I’m giving the film the Thumbs Down.
3/10 - Same plot just a different Freddy and that really isn't enough reason to watch it