Let's get this out of the way: Jackie Earle Haley is not Robert Englund. It was common knowledge when the reboot was announced that they would cast someone new as Freddy Krueger. I will admit, even I was saddened by the news. Let's face it, would you have wanted Sean Connery as James Bond in Quantam of Solace? No. And not because he's too old. I'm certain he could still pull it off. It's becasue the new 007 movies have taken a different direction. Englund could be Freddy again with both hands tied behind his back. But this is not the old Nightmare on Elm Street.
Springwood is just a normal town. Not unlike your town or mine. Except in Springwood it isn't wise to fall asleep. You might not wake up. We open the movie at the Springwood Diner where Dean is pounding down black coffee. He tries to explain to Kris that if he goes to sleep, his nightmare might kill him. When Kris leaves to talk to some friends, Dean nervously jumps up as if in a struggle and cuts his own throat. Now Kris, along with friends Quentin, Jessie and Nancy have to remember their forgotten pasts if they want to have a future. All without falling asleep.
This contemporary retelling of the original 1984 Wes Craven film did what all remakes try, but often fail to do. It reinvented the wheel. Despite all the backlash and open hatred, Platinum Dunes made Freddy Krueger scary again. Certainly the best of all the PD remakes I've seen, all the jokes, puns and pop culture jabs are stripped away to leave us with the boogeyman. That is not to say this movie didn't have flaws. While the movie has a runtime of over an hour and a half, it feels like we're in a race to get to the climax. Characters start to figure things out way too early and the audience is left in the dust, trying to catch up. Not to say I didn't understand the story but it wasn't organic or fluid in the least. While they (Platinum Dunes) did tip their hat to the original franchise, it isn't as blatant or forced as the trailers would make you think.
Let's talk about Freddy for a moment. Jackie Earle Haley had some mighty big shoes to fill. He did not fill them. He wore his own shoes into this and he dares you to question it for even a second. While some of the dialogue he uses reference the other films, JEH made Krueger a whole new monster. On a side note, if you have never seen it, Haley was in a movie called Little Children where he had a minor role as a newly released child molester trying to fit back into society. When I heard Haley was playing Freddy, I knew he would pull it off based on the supporting role he played. JEH shows us that he has the chops to be Freddy for a long time. The voice, while different, begins to fit the character and does grow on the audience despite negative reaction when it was first heard in trailers. Also, I love the way he flicks his blades together, making a noise as if the glove itself is alive and anticipating the next kill. As I told my nephew, if Haley gets an opportunity to do eight of these like Englund did, that would be fine by me.
When it was all said and done, Nightmare left me wanting more. One, because as previously mentioned it was kind of quick. Two, because it was just damn good to see Freddy on the silver screen again. As a fan of these movies since I was 14, I've got to say to the fans, don't set the bar too high. Don't compare this to the original or any of it's sequels. You will be disappointed if you do. But if you go in with only the expectation to have fun, you'll want to do it again real soon. I know I do.