This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Arielrocks5’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
(Warning: I spoil both this and the original, so if you haven't seen either, stop reading. If you have, continue onwards. Thank you)
This is the byproduct of some edge lord looking at the original, thinking it wasn't "scary" enough, and decided to make it more "dark" and "edgy" than the "cheesy" and "campy" original (because you know, bloody body bags being dragged through Hallways is 80s comedy gold to me!).
So instead of simply having Freddy be a child murder/kidnapper, we have to make him a sexual predator instead of that! (Edit: someone pointed out that I forgot to edit in was that apparently he was going to be that in the original but for the most part it's more or less implied heavily throughout it ((I never got that type of vibe from it hence why I've never bought into it)), but the point here is that they take what was originally pretty fair game as to his motivations and connections to the children and turn it up to a insane and disgusting degree)
And instead of doing this thing called "pacing" and "building tension/atmosphere", let's just open with some really crappy and stock credits (with this weird effect where they have the names scratched onto the backgrounds yet they still feel the need to put regular text over it?????)a and then admittedly into a Nightmare sequence with Freddy!
And then, oh this is when things get good, instead of having a clear idea of who the lead character is for the first twenty minutes and then pulling the rug under us with her eventual death that's both genuinely shocking and frightening due to how much time we've spent with them, let's just clutter the entire set with the characters and then have one of them slit their throat with Freddy in full view for the audience to see! Subtlety!? What's that!?
Keep in mind, all of which of that happens within the first five minutes. The only thing truly nightmarish about this film is the editing, because good god. It never takes time to build any form of tension, just throwing us around from piece to piece with no care, no reasoning, no ANYTHING. It's just taking iconic moments from the original and trying to one up them without understanding what made them scary in the first place.
Another example: Tina's death, probably my favorite kill in not only the series but in general horror films. Instead of having her dragged up the wall slowly as we see a stream of blood start to appear as she is eventually murdered on the ceiling, here she ends up flying and getting knocked around like a fucking Ragdoll and eventually having her chest scarped.
Yeah, because nothing terrifies me more than something that feels more like "Abbott and Costello meet The Exorcist".
Enough about comparisons to the original, how does it stand on its own? Honestly, even worse. I like Rooney Mara a lot, but she's given nothing to work with and thus results in a performance that could pass for literal a dozen final girls in any horror movie from this era.
Even if she did manage to put in an Oscar worthy performance in this thing, even she couldn't save a script this bland and generic and "edgy lordy" (yes that's a word, at least in my book ((The New Dictionary by Samantha Walker, keep your eye out for it), blandly putting characters in situations to fall asleep because they can and need to die because we need to show gore and what not! Because who needs restrain when you can have Freddy shove his hand through a guy's chest in all of its glory fashion! Yeah! That would be cool! If the effect itself didn't look like literal dog shit. (Oh, and speaking of dogs, they kill the one in this in the first twenty minutes too, because, of course!)
A couple of the sets look like something smeared burnt marshmallows over them and the others are just generic "spooky" places, but the thing that really and I mean REALLY irked me was what they did with Freddy.
The pedophile stuff was kind of hinted at in the original series (I say kind of because it's more or less an assumption you could make about his backstory since there are some aspects overshadowed that could lead to that idea), but it was never made fully official, but that's not what bugged me.
Aside from the design looking like (as James Rolfe of Angry Video Game Nerd fame put it I believe) melted cheese, Jackie Earle Haley (an actor I really like) plays up the perv side of Freddy on Nancy and a couple other girls and, maybe it's just a matter of bad timing on my part since this whole month has been about exposing people like this, but it just feels like another unnecessary and cheap way to make him scary instead of, you know, actually trying.
However, with all my bitching, there is one, and I mean, ONE cool thing in this film, and it's only for about a minute or so. It's the scene that takes place in the pharmacy as Nancy struggles to stay awake and the line between the real world and dream world shift over with flashes. Honestly, it's a cool image and it's handled well, until Jackie starts mugging to the camera some more with his attempt at sounding like Christian Bale's Batman.
That's one scene....one positive I can think of. The cinematography is drab as fuck, the color grating and lighting look like rust and used toilet water (and that's during the regular scenes), the direction/camera work are aggressively awful and shaky (the climax wavers around like the camera man was drunk off every form of alcohol on the planet ((honestly, i can't blame him, since he is working on this film)), on and instead of a clever girl figuring out the rules of how everything works and bringing him into the real world to make him weak against her traps, we just get a simple beat down in this, lovely), the acting is terrible, the effects are terrible, and again, there's only like, one cool scene in the film and even that's ruined....
I'm not against the idea of remaking something like "A Nightmare on Elm Street", because while it may be my favorite horror film, it would be interesting to see someone else's take on it in a modern time, but like, with actual effort and not made by an/for edgy teenager(s).
There are very few films I can say genuinely piss me off for not only their actual quality but their mere existence, but this is certainly one of them.
Avoid at all costs.