The first ten minutes of A Nightmare On Elm Street tells you exactly what you’re going to be sitting through for the next 85. There are three standout themes that come about during this introduction, all of which continue throughout.
1) Stunning visuals. The opening credits roll over an unsettling backdrop. Series of images are presented, not unlike the opening of Se7en, with creepy music playing underneath. Throughout the movie, it’s clear that painstaking lengths have been taken for making this movie visually memorable and captivating. Even where certain locales are wholly illogical (like the single mom, who works as a flight attendant and is able to keep her house immaculately clean, while providing her daughter with a brand new Volkswagen), every scene looks brilliant, even when the subject of it less than appealing.
2) Brutal violence. I don’t want to give anything away about exactly what goes down, but the threat of Freddy is introduced quite early. Sitting alone in a diner is Dean (The Twilight Saga’s Kellan Lutz), who’s being haunted by his dreams of Freddy Kruger. After about three minutes, Dean falls asleep and Krueger takes over, dispatching of Dean in an unapologetic, unsettling way. Right away, it’s made clear that this isn’t going to be an implied-violence or goreless feature. No, Freddy’s going to kill you and he’s not going to make it easy or pretty.
3) Bad story/bad script. This is not a movie you want to watch by yourself. Not because you’ll be terrified, but rather because you’ll want someone to point out plot holes with. You can even make it a game; the first person to point out 10 serious logical errors wins a prize.
This is also not the kind of movie that is going to win anyone any awards (except maybe Teen Choice awards for “Best Actor Who Is Only Otherwise Known For Playing Edward Cullen’s Brother” or something). There are varying degrees of pretty bad acting, but it’s not really clear whether it’s because of the person or the script. The person who manages to escape the most unscathed is Kyle Gallner, who manages to weasel through his lines with enough integrity left intact that we don’t want to see him die.
There are also problems with Freddy himself. I have no idea what a real burn victim would look like, but this version (played by Jackie Earle Haley) is allegedly meant to look quite a lot like one. Early in the movie, it looks much more like a guy with prosthetics stuck to his face.
Furthermore, the writers also decided to take the character’s history back to Wes Craven’s original idea of having Freddy be a child molester. For most of the movie, there’s a supposed mystery as to whether or not Krueger was actually guilty, except for the fact that in the first half hour, he licks one of the characters during a dream and basically announces that he raped her, making the “did we kill an innocent man?” subplot completely irrelevent before it starts.
And, since I’m being really fussy here, I also hated that Freddy is back to punning. There is a difference between saying something malicious and laughing maniacally and throwing out lame puns and laughing maniacally. It’s scary when Freddy is chasing a character down a hallway when the carpet melts into a pool of blood. It’s not scary when, seeing this happen, Freddy says “talk about a wet dream.” It’s not scary, it’s not funny, which only leaves us with “dumb:” a word that quite effectively sums up the movie.