Pre-Amble : Freddy Krueger is a horror icon. Initially intended to be a cash-in on the slasher flicks of the early 80s, it became a unique blend of darkly comic and horror with a great premise – the monster is the ghost of a murdered paedophile who kills children/young adults in their sleep – a terrifying notion. He stalks his victims by blending reality and a horrific fantasy before killing them, which is an incredible premise for a horror film. Fast-forward to 2010. Ahh, Rorschach as Freddy Kruger? Sign me up! The film had generally unfavourable reviews so I was aware that it wasn’t warmly received, which usually means I look to enjoy the film more and try to look for the positives. This film marks the first time Freddy has not been portrayed by Robert Englund (after 8 Elm St. movies including Freddy vs Jason).
Cast/Crew : Directed by Samual Bayer, best known for directing rock concert DVDs. Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from the Watchmen) plays Freddy Krueger in a decent performance, but his character has no charisma so…Thomas Dekker (John Connor from the Sarah Connor Chronicles) plays the brooding angsty teen heart-throb. No thanks! A niggling point, but all the teens are played by mid-20s actors. Kris (Katie Cassidy) is not believable as a high-school student in the least.
Plot : Kris sees a burnt man in her diner, and watches in horror as he cuts her boyfriend (Dean)’s throat. That was a dream! In reality Dean is shown killing himself the same way. Kris believes this burnt man is responsible, and must uncover the truth while not falling asleep herself.
Good points :
• Freddy looks cool, and he’s kept strictly as a heel (i.e. no rapping or cheesy one-liners that’d warm you to him)
• The victims are more likeable than your typical douchebag disposable American teens.
• There is an interesting swerve with the victims that I appreciated. (Highlight to reveal) Spoiler: They kill off the protagonists at the start, so you follow other victims..
• There’s two cool special effects bits: the landing turning into a blood pool, and it exploding through to the bedroom.
• They go through Freddy’s back story, which is the most interesting (although curtailed) part of the film.
• The score sounds like “The Ring” without the main song, which isn’t bad.
Bad points :
• The film overly relies on shock-horror, not actual scares or atmosphere. Get ready for 20 “Boo!” moments; they’re pretty hackneyed, some of them are painfully obvious and become a chore.
• No atmosphere, no suspense is built. Shock-horror can be effective if you build atmosphere. There’s none. They go for the “Boo!” immediately.
• They miss the entire hook of the franchise – The whole genius of the Freddy scenario is that his victims don’t know if they’re asleep or not – Freddy intentionally melds the dream and real world in the victim’s mind. This is thrown out the window because they have a f**king visual cue – green/orange lights flicker, telling you the victim is dreaming. Not impressed at all. Way to kill the suspense.
• Apart from the two instances previously mentioned, the special effects are pretty meh. (Freddy coming through the bedroom wallpaper looked particularly cheap)
• It’s not explained how Freddy came back in general, or how he can ‘exorcist’ throw people around the room in the real world. Not even an attempt! C’mon, one line!
• It’s a small point, but all of Freddy’s lines sound voiced over; i.e. they were re-recorded in post production. I’m sure it was to give it more emphasis, but it took me out of the moment constantly.
• It would’ve been nice to have more interaction/payoff with Freddy’s killer(s) expounding on what they did ~15 years ago. I’m a fan of backstory.
Overall : This film has very little redeeming qualities. It defines a cash-grab on a famous franchise. It’s such a wasted opportunity, with today’s special effects and Freddy’s amazing gimmick. There’s a BLOODY VISUAL CUE to tell us if we’re in dream land or reality, ruining any suspense! Freddy deserves and can do better. Avoid.