There’s really only one of two ways you could watch this movie – as an avid fan of the original movies or as someone who has a passing familiarity with Freddy as a cultural icon but never really saw the movies except maybe when you were a kid. These two different points of view will give two completely different experiences.
For veterans of the franchise, this isn’t Freddy. The original Freddy Kruger is almost a merry prankster who does kill people but with a cartoon sensability. You root for him to kill the heroes, you like him. You also forget that he’s a kiddy diddler. People dress up as Freddy for Halloween and buy his action figures but when we think about him, the first thing we think about is the glove…not the kiddy love. You can’t do that today. How could you make a pedaphile likeable? He’s a monster! He was a monster before the fire and before he had magic powers to invade your dreams. Part of this problem is solved by an interesting notion from the new writers to make Freddy’s guilt ambiguous for much of the movie. This could have been a fresh dynamic for the series but it’s given up before the end of the movie.
My first problem with the movie is that taking itself seriously takes the fun out of it. The audience sits in the theatre wanting to laugh, but gets very few chances to. Freddy of old was charming, even in his murderous glee. Jackie Earle Hailey doesn’t really help matters. He uses his Rorschach voice which becomes more awkward than listening to Christian Bale‘s Cookie Monster/Batman voice. The first half of the movie is very dry with little to no charm, but it does pick up toward the end.
As I said earlier, there are two ways to watch this movie. If this is your first time getting to watch the Freddy Kruger story unfold, you would be more entertained than a veteran fan. There is little in the movie that is new and all of the best and most creative scenes are “borrowed” from the original. These will be best viewed having not seen the first movie which executed the effects much better. The eighties obviously didn’t have the crutch of CG but when it’s employed in this film, it hurts the movie a little. The CG simply makes the gore look less real.
New audiences seem to enjoy the old classic moves like the claw coming out of the bath tub, claw coming out of the wall, body bags being dragged down the hallway, etc. So, in that, the movie could be okay. It does pick up the pace toward the end of the film and Freddy’s make-up is pretty gruesome for a reimagining of the character.
The cast isn’t special, hell, the movie isn’t special, but it isn’t insulting either. The lead is no Heather Langenkamp and people might smirk at the idea that the original cast was good but they forget that this was also Johnny Depp‘s first performance. Some supporting cast members like John Saxon can never be replaced but Clancy Brown is a nice new addition. This was not entirely awful, the movie flies by pretty fast, has some decent recycled kills, and ends on a high note.