You know a movie remake you are watching is not quite working when you keep thinking about the original. And that’s what happens watching producer Michael Bay’s reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. There are some changes, but barely any surprises in the by-the-book film, which you can see coming from so far away you find yourself saying “Boo!” seconds before Freddy does.
The changes: First of all, of course, is Jackie Earle Haley replacing Robert Englund as nightmare dweller Freddy Krueger. Haley turns in a respectable performance but fails to terrify. It may be because he’s on screen a little too much, making him less of a hair-raising boogey man and more of an annoying creep. The original flick hinted at Krueger’s being a child molester, but this one comes right out and says it—a move that strangely makes Krueger less mysterious and powerful and steers the movie into a glum affair you’d see in a mash up of Lifetime and the Syfy channel.
Special effects don’t much for the new flick either. Sure, the movie has some deft scenes in which real-life settings dissolve into dreamscapes, but CGI classic scenes like one in which Freddy seems to stretch out of a bedroom wall—ripped right out of the original flick—don’t look realistic. Remember that scene in which someone gets turned into a gushing geyser of blood? That was visceral. In the new film, the blood turns into gorgeous curlicue crimson waves. Cool to look at? Sure. But scary? Not a chance.
Somehow, none if this really made a difference last weekend as the Nightmare reboot managed to come in number one at the box office.