“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you”
Those words, that rhyme, has haunted multiple generations of horror fans. In 1984, a character was created and immortalized by Wes Craven and Robert Englund: Freddy Krueger. There was a magic (terrifying magic) in the way Englund played Krueger. So, I would imagine that there was immense pressure on Jackie Earle Haley when taking on that same role in the 2010 remake.
1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street starred Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, our main character. Nancy, along with several of her classmates, begin having nightmares all with the same recurring character, a burned man with knives for fingers. Once people actually begin to die, it is revealed that the man in everybody’s dreams is named Freddy Krueger. He was a child murderer who, when the justice system didn’t do his job, we murdered by the parents in the town. Krueger is seeking revenge. The film ends, as most of this era’s horror films do, with a cliffhanger.
The 2010 remake The Nightmare on Elm Street is similar, for the most part. Rooney Mara plays the role of Nancy, and Jackie Earle Haley has the task of filling the shoes of Robert Englund in playing Freddy Krueger. In this film, the character of Freddy Krueger was a child molester instead of a child murderer, which is what the original Krueger was supposed to be. All of the teenagers who fall victim to Krueger in this remake are people who were molested by Krueger as children. They’ve all blocked it out. As in the original, Nancy figures out how to fight Krueger, and the film ends on a similar cliff hanger.
The main thing that I take issue with in the 2010 remake is that the entire film feels soured due to the subject matter. Krueger was a child molester who was murdered by the towns people, and then, in death, stalks those who he had molested in life. None of the children involved have much memory of what happened, thankfully, because that is some traumatic stuff. To then take that, though, and use it as a driving point in the film just doesn’t sit well with me. They’re playing on the trauma of these people more than anything, as each starts to remember what happened to them. The scary aspect of this film then becomes the teen’s trauma, not Krueger.
As far as 2010 Freddy Krueger, I don’t necessarily hate Jackie Earl Haley’s performance. Do I prefer Robert Englund’s performance? Of course. But, I can tolerate Haley’s. I do wish that he had less lines as Nightmare Freddy, though. Something about it just feels off.
This remake, as a lot of remakes do, feels useless. 2010’s doesn’t really add anything to the story, save for an aspect of uncomfortability. I’ll just stick with 1984’s film. And it’s sequel, Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy Krueger and the Gay Subtext.