Nightmare on Elm Street is too thin for nightmare material

Two differing reviews on the horror remake agree on one thing: Wes Craven's original can't be beat.

In this film and the superior 1984 original, the premise is the same: a fringe member of the early-childhood education job sector, Freddy Krueger is burned alive by a pitchfork mob as punishment for the kind of crimes that ensue when desire meets access. Krueger then kills the children of the mob in their nightmares. Horror requires a suspension of disbelief, which is actually an exercise of imagination. What did Freddy really do to young kids? Just how evil is he? How could a subconscious allow this to happen? Where the original film titillated, the redo is obvious and therefore pointlessly unpleasant. The redo exploits its audiences' anxiety over these traumatizing crimes. The original left the audience to wonder and the space to later process their reactions. Where the redo force-feeds reality, the original was almost sensitive. b–Hillary Titley

It doesn’t top Wes Craven’s 1984 original---the most inventive of the 1980s-era slasher movies---but at least Freddy Krueger’s return isn’t completely redundant. For this update, the Freddy backstory has been tweaked to make the character darker and more menacing than the cartoonish wiseass of the original sequels, and Jackie Earle Haley brings sadistic relish---but, thankfully, no ham---to his role as the razor-gloved killer. But while the new Freddy is a nasty piece of work, the movie around him doesn’t quite measure up. The dream sequences lack the giddy imagination that distinguished Craven’s creation and the young cast members don’t register as much more than interchangeable lambs awaiting slaughter. Still, this Nightmare remake produces just enough scares to justify its existence. –Matt Semansky

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