Another remake of a classic horror movie that just so happens to have Michael Bay's name attached to it. It's almost as though he has some sort of primal urge to take nostalgia and destroy it. Let's hope he never teams up with Uwe Boll because I don't think the universe could cope with whatever resulted from it...
In the town of Springfield, some of the teens there are having a problem sleeping. Or rather, when they sleep they're stalked and tormented by a horribly burned man in a red and green sweater, with knives on his hands. And when he's finished playing with them in their dreams, he kills them. As they watch their friends die one by one, Nancy and Quentin also find themselves dreaming of the burned man, and take it upon themselves to discover the truth - what is the connection between them and this man, and what did their parents do a decade or so ago that has been kept hidden from them all these years? Furthermore, can they uncover the truth and stop what's happening to them before they fall asleep for the final time?
Let's start off with the best things about this Nightmare on Elm Street remake. First off, there's a scene in the movie, approximately at the start of what could be termed Act 3, in a pharmacy. Our heroine Nancy, having not slept for two or three days at this point, starts to experience microsleeps - effectively she's dreaming for a few seconds at a time while still awake. This leads to a scene where Krueger's boiler room and the aisles of the pharmacy start to blend together, with Krueger appearing and disappearing as well - but the effects of his swings and slashes at Nancy are seen in the real world as products on the shelves surrounding Nancy spontaneously get sliced open and sent flying. It's a very effective scene and one that really benefits from the advantages of CGI; its only flaw is that I think it could have stood to have been a little longer.
The other great thing about the remake is Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Freddy Krueger. Following in the footsteps of someone like Robert Englund to play such an iconic character is a pretty tough thing to do, but Haley managed it with aplomb. He got the role on the basis of his screen test for Rorschach in Watchmen, and succeeded in impressing everyone who saw him in the role of Krueger that he even got Englund's personal blessing to play the character. And let's not forget the wonderful coincidence that, back when the first film was being made, Haley actually went to audition for the role of Glen, and brought his friend Johnny Depp along with him - we all know how that ended up. Haley really does take the character of Krueger and make it his own though - it's not just the updated burn makeup (enhanced with just a little bit of CGI) but the little mannerisms he put into Krueger's character that make him stand out from Englund's portrayal without taking anything away; things like this Krueger's habit of twitching his razor-tipped fingers as he approaches his prey that stick in your head after you've finished watching the film.
Sadly, however, these are the only things I can really praise about the film, and even Jackie Earle Haley's performance can't carry the entire film. This Nightmare on Elm Street remake's major flaw is that it's just so very slow - we barely spend any time with our heroine until at least a third of the way through the movie, and even after that the movie feels less a horror movie and more a Nancy Drew mystery where Nancy and Quentin spend most of their time uncovering the truth about Fred Krueger and the preschool they all went to as children despite it being on the far side of town from them all. The dream sequences are... okay, but they feel fragmented and maybe reliant a little too much on CGI effects rather than atmosphere and suspense (always the danger with CGI). And when it came to chronicling the crimes of Fred Krueger while he was alive, they went too far the other way. Now, instead of him being a child killer and implied molester, Krueger instead is an outright child molester who even kept pictures of his crimes for his victims to find later (because the good parents of Springwood, always thinking ahead, decided to torch him and just pretend it never happened in the hope that their kids would (a) never remember and (b) no-one else would ever investigate). The balance is upset, especially during the part of the movie that attempts to convince us that Krueger was actually the victim of a McMartin Preschool-esque incident and was in fact entirely innocent. We know Krueger is/was a bad person; trying to pull a plot twist like that just isn't going to work here.
In the end, this remake is, at best, average. If it was an entirely original film, it might have been raised to "quite good", but this is a film that's pretty much impossible to watch without comparing it to its original, and as a result it suffers for it because we know that they managed to do a lot better the first time around with a hell of a lot less.