Let’s get a few things straight right from the off. The 1984 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t perfect. It really isn’t. The acting is flimsy, the special effects — even to a susceptible teenager — are ropey in places and downright laughable in others and the willingness on behalf of the script to purposefully ignore major plot points (pulling a hat into a hospital bed, anyone?) didn’t go unnoticed back then and only magnifies with each subsequent viewing.

That said, with all its faults, Wes Craven’s original vision is still roughly 9.387 million times better than what is presumably the best talent and technology a new century can muster.

And it’s a shame, because there are some neat ideas here but they’re hidden away under heaps of poor execution that make the experience difficult not to hate.

For example, on the plus side, the fact that we start more in the middle of things is an interesting development. Nancy (a rare highlight played by Rooney Mara) initially seems a minor character and we’re also introduced to Jesse, the namesake of the protagonist from Freddy’s Revenge and Kris, who for the first twenty minutes, does a passable impression of the main character … until she gets murdered and presents the negative: being almost a third of the way through a horror movie only to have a carpet pulled from under the audience’s feet is bad unless the film-maker’s a genius. There’s no danger that’s the case here.

Another example would be the atmosphere. Insomnia and the curtain between the real and dream worlds are far more evident in the remake, notable by the introduction of micro-naps, where the brain apparently switches off momentarily in an attempt to recharge and one essentially dreams with open eyes. Most of the characters, Kris, Nancy and Quentin particularly look like death warmed up. We get the feeling they haven’t slept for days. But this isn’t explored anywhere near enough and for all the talk of not being able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not, for anyone watching, it’s exceptionally easy.

Then there’s the main event. You can’t have A Nightmare on Elm Street movie without Freddy and the glove is filled by Jackie Earle Haley, off of Watchmen. At times, he’s great but again, the movie conspires to ruin his performance with terribly inconsistent make-up that ranges from highly effective all the way down to isn’t-that-just-sponge-cake with some rudimentary CGI filling the spaces in between. Furthermore, the writers clearly didn’t know whether to go in the moody, creepy direction that this new atmosphere would warrant, or give him the witty one-liners and put-downs that the fanboys would be baying for. After thinking about it for a second, they did both and we got the worst of both worlds.

It’s this last aspect that causes the most damage. Because Freddy is undefinable and unbelievable, the thrills, chills and frights fall way short of the mark. Even the horrendously rushed finalé couldn’t quicken the pulse and when the end credits rolled, the overall mood in the cinema was a beleaguered, “so what?”

If the 26 years between the two versions have taught us one thing, it’s that 26 might be a big number, but before we start considering a remake of the sequel, let’s have another look at that number back in the second paragraph: 9.387 million. As a starting point, I think that’s perfectly reasonable.

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