Same old Freddy: After 25 years, ‘Nightmare’ character hasn’t changed much

Freddy Krueger turned 25 last year, so it's a little sad to note, in the new "Nightmare On Elm Street," that his skin hasn't cleared up.

In fact it's gotten worse, which may account for his mood - the new Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) is an angry, humorless thug.

The original (and I would say "real") Freddy Krueger belongs to Robert Englund, who made the character an imp and a wiseacre, and seemed to understand that while Freddy could kill you in your dreams, he also wore a bad sweater and a stupid hat.

Haley's Krueger comes from the Michael Bay factory that cranks out expensive, reproductions of horror antiques - remakes that distinguish themselves by adding so little to the originals.

Wes Craven's '84 version was a modest upgrade to the extant slasher genre. Freddy haunted the dreams of teenagers, enabling Craven to stage new and more fantastical ways of killing them.

Craven, a devious social critic (take another look at "The People Under the Stairs"), might also have been using the premise to satirize a don't-worry-be-happy decade - we were all living on Elm St., and Krueger was the wake-up call.

Or may have simply stumbled upon a horror movie gold mine, the fake-out dream sequence has always been a staple of the horror movie, and his new dreams-can-kill gimmick enabled him to pile one fake-out on top of another, keeping the dizzy viewer delightfully off balance.

Of course, we've been there and done that - Craven and others milked that idea thoroughly in half a dozen sequels and if there's anything new to be added, the new "Nightmare" does not do it.

It gives Krueger a new backstory - he's seeking vengeance for wrongs done to him when he was a maintenance man at a day care center, but so what? Giving a bogeyman specific character motivation does not make him more interesting, it makes him less so.

The new story line also introduces child molestation, providing director Samuel Bayer with an opportunity to combine sexual assault and pedophilia in the same image, which prompted me to think of Banksy's wonderful epilogue to "Exit Through the Gift Shop" - that art should not be encouraged in everyone.

Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, directed by Samuel Bayer, written by Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer, music by Steve Jablonsky, distributed by Warner Bros.


A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Directed by Samuel Bayer. With Connie Brit­ton, Thomas Dekker, Clancy Brown, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Rooney Mara, Jackie Earle Haley, Kellan Lutz, Lia D. Mortensen. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().