For the first time, a new actor dons the infamous glove with knives for fingers as he terrorizes the dreams of the unsuspecting teenagers on Elm Street. Sadly, this fresh Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) is an unbalanced fusion of Wes Craven's demonic original and the tongue-in-cheek version of the later, less-terrifying successors.
Before the title appears, the audience is immediately tossed into a deadly nightmare controlled by our adored antagonist as he forces a diner patron to kill himself with his girlfriend watching in horror. For those who forgot, what happens in your dreams happens in real life—cut for cut, slash for slash. All it takes is a single shot of the glistening glove to reignite our excitement for the long lost lunatic.
As the body count soars, budding couple Quentin (Kyle Gallner) and Nancy (Rooney Mara) attempt to solve the mystery behind the burned man who appears in everyone's dreams, but their parents' lack of cooperation instills a sense suspicion about the neighborhood's clouded and unspoken history.
Long-time music video director, first-time feature film director Samuel Bayer has all the right components to pull off a horrifying tale (eerie set designs, disturbing cinematography, children playing hopscotch), but short-changes the audience with useless CGI installments and an exhausted back story that ultimately diminishes the once maniacal murderer into a lonely and creepy pedophile who looks more like a hairless cat rather than a burn victim.
The majority of the time, Haley comes across reserved and restricted, but the few instances he's allowed to be let off the chain reminds everyone of the Krueger that could have been brutally terrorizing. Bayer does show promise with his seamless transitions between reality and the dream worlds, but his excessive use of regurgitated tricks from other films of the same genre only reiterates his inexperience.
For what it is, A Nightmare on Elm Street will deliver a handful of screams to the modest moviegoer, but for the gore geeks out there, you may want to drink a pot of coffee beforehand so as not to meet your dreamy demise.