Believe it or not, I typically don't go to see the horror remakes of classic horror films in theater. The last one I think I saw in theater was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I think was one of the first. I actually only recently saw Rob Zombie's Halloween and the new Friday the 13th (the latter just a couple weeks ago). And they're all pretty much crap. But Freddy is different. Freddy isn't the silent, faceless killer like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, or Leatherface. No, he has a face... a burnt face, but a face... and quite a mouth. And while I'm not an uber-fan of the original series (I think I've maybe seen two of them all the way through, not counting Freddy vs. Jason), I do like the character of Freddy Krueger, as well as his portrayal by Robert Englund. So to hear that not only were they doing a remake, but that Englund wasn't going to return, I was worried. But then I heard that he was being replaced by Jackie Earle Haley, and I felt better. But were my new-found feelings justified?
The movie is essentially about a bunch of kids who start getting killed off in their dreams by a burnt man with knives on his fingers named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley). The main bunch includes Nancy (Rooney Mara), Quentin (Kyle Gallner), Kris (Katie Cassidy), Jesse (Thomas Dekker), and Dean (Kellan Lutz). So why is Freddy after them? Well, let's just say it's a revenge story--he was once a gardener at a preschool accused of being a pedophile, and the parents took justice into their own hands by burning him alive.
That's pretty much the story. The whole movie is just Freddy going after the "kids" as they try to stay awake and figure out what the hell is going on. Story-wise, there's really not much there. If you know the original film(s), there should be no surprises as to Freddy's backstory, which is basically the whole mystery of the movie. So in other words, you're just there to see the kills and scares.
The scares are all jump scares. The music will get quiet, everything will pause for a moment, and then BAM, Freddy appears from nowhere accompanied by a jolt of music. Did they scare me? Sure... but they're still forced scares. It's not a "oh my God this is so creepy" kind of scare. It's not the kind of scary where I won't be able to sleep at night. As for the kills, there is surprisingly little blood in this movie. And whenever there's large amounts, it's typically super-CGI.
Which brings me to one of my first big complaints. The movie relied pretty strongly on CGI. What's pretty cool about the original is that everything is practical. When Freddy pushes his face through the wall in the original? Practical. In the remake? Purely CGI. When blood gushes onto a ceiling in the original? It looks real. In the remake? Super fake (not to mention much, much shorter in time and in less amount). I think this is one of the first times where a modern remake doesn't try to out-gore the original. And for a movie like this, that's kinda lame.
I'm not going to bother getting into the acting, except for one. Jackie Earle Haley was superb as Freddy. I mean, he's no Robert Englund, but if they aren't going to have Robert back, Jackie was the next best thing. He has the voice down, and he's absolutely vicious. He even, toward the end, had some of Freddy's jokes and puns, which he pulled off nicely. The only issue I had with Freddy was his look. I know they wanted to make him look like a more realistic burn victim, but it just came off as fake. Parts of his face was too smooth, too plastic looking, especially in comparison to the original, which had deep pits and ugly scars. And I'm pretty sure they even did CGI on part of his face (trying to pull off a semi-Two-Face kinda thing), but I can't be certain there. But if they did, that's totally lame.
The cinematography was actually really good, keeping the movie dream-like and stylized. It was hard to tell sometimes what was a dream and what was real. Though I particularly liked the pharmacy scene, where it flashed back and forth between the real and dream worlds. Also, there are some nice moments recreated from the original movie (like the bathtub scene, though it doesn't go on like it does in the original).
So it was pretty decent, especially for a classic horror remake. Freddy was perfectly cast since they couldn't get Robert Englund. The second half of the movie, I felt, was better than the first half. The first half focused strongly on little plot, dream sequences, and the Kris and Jesse characters. The second half was more on figuring out the mystery while focusing on Nancy and Quentin (and the dream sequences were cleverer, and some were straight from the original). Overall, the movie had some issues, from the minor and up, but it was still decent entertainment, mostly thanks to Jackie Earle Haley, who boosted it up a point or two in my ratings from what it could have been.
I Am McLovin!