Nightmare On Elm Street is a remake of a 1984 hit by the same name, which was a teen horror flick that sparked off a long line of film series, books and comics. The latest release is aimed at rebooting the franchise, with an attempt at darkening the villainy and the scares.
However, goose-bumps are about all you get in here, and sporadically at that. This reviewer hasn't watched any of the Nightmare franchise movies, so that makes sure we don't get into comparisons with either the original or the other episodes.
Which means that as an entity in itself, without even the burden of an intimidating benchmark, Nightmare this year comes across as a movie with only slightly more fireworks than, say, a Twilight film. Well, we're exaggerating, of course - Nightmare On Elm Street positively belongs to the horror genre, and does its bit towards staying true to its kind. Only, it doesn't aspire for much.
The plot revolves round a particular set of teenagers, who, when they fall asleep, are killed gruesomely in their sleep. The deaths occur as culminations of certain gory nightmares in a boiler room, involving Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earler Haley), a man who has a burnt face and a clawed glove.
Freddy Krueger was a child molester at their pre-school, who was burnt to death by the kids' parents, and who is out for revenge now. The youngsters try hard not to sleep, but they're systematically dragged into the terrible parallel world of nightmares by Freddy, and hurled about and slashed to death.
There's much blood, slicing and screaming, and this is what the film relies on - the actual acts of violence rather than a purposeful construction a hair-raising build-up to the horror.
When you look at it this way, it is an old-fashioned B-movie that does its own thing and makes little effort to cater to present-day tastes of concept-based cinema. Nightmare seems unaware of the fact that in general audiences just don't scare as easily any more. People are so earnestly looking forward to the next big jolt in the movie, that it takes more than just the obvious to thrill them.
Then again, it's not that bad an experience if you keep your expectations low and tuned to the '80s. Freddy comes across as a cheesy oddball whose burnt appearance is far from frightening, and some of the special effects, too, smack of old-world frights. The cliches could have been done away with - the squished pet with the split guts, for example. Certain scenes and ideas, though are impressive, even if they're not enough to hold you jaw-struck with the brilliance.
The teenagers are pretty to look at, and they all have rather simple performances to pull off. The soundtrack and the general quality of production is nothing to complain about, like in most Hollywood movies.
In all, we'd say that Nightmare On Elm Street is a mild shot of adrenaline, that tries to spook you with blood and carnage rather than give you stuff to keep you awake at night. Watch it if that's what your thing is.