It's all fun and games until someone messes with a classic!
Despite remaining loyal to the basic premise of Craven’s story (and in fact relying heavily on his subtext of pedophilia) and recreating some of the staple imageries, Bayer’s Nightmare can only classify as loosely-based on the original. The film is for horror fans, not Nightmare fans. In its appropriation of genre conventions it completely disregards the original’s appreciation of social context and character development. In particular, the close-up is over-utilized to convey a sense of fear among all of the characters. This means that everyone is paranoid, and Nancy’s role becomes far less special. The film slowly but surely removes paranoia from the equation entirely, choosing instead to make the film about the dangers of repression and the trauma associated with childhood victimization. Nancy becomes our main player, not because she is the smartest nor the strongest as in the original, but she is simply the most victimized - she was always Freddy’s favorite. So truly a victim, this Final Girl lacks the power associated with the heroism of Craven’s.
The first half of the film is presented almost as a series of vignettes, laying out what all the characters are going through. First Dean, and then Kris, and then Jesse. Finally, after this third death, Nancy takes over the plot. She is warned by Jesse of the threat Freddy poses and turns to Quentin for support. While Craven’s film stressed the need for Nancy to develop and trust her own sense of paranoia, this film creates a partnership between Nancy and Quentin, both of whom seem to already have a fully developed and accepted sense of paranoia that they can rationalize with total ease. This has to do with the film’s unexpected insistence on the themes of trauma and repression. The teens are all living with traumatizing repressed memories. When Freddy comes for them, the memories return (obviously, to a further degree for some) enough to alert them to the very real threat they face. Because of this, they need little to no convincing that Freddy is real. They already know, somewhere deep down, that they have to be on guard. Compared to the original, this completely disrupts the dynamic between them. Most significantly, Nancy’s role as the convincer, investigator, and fighter is erased. Furthermore, Bayer’s Nancy is completely dependent on Quentin. She is unable to function, defeat, or even survive without him.
This remake compromises everything that was great about the original - especially Nancy’s character and how her determination never wavered even when all the odds stacked up against her. The CGI’d recreations of shocking, gory imagery from the original loses its effect, and Jackie Earle Haley’s delivery of many of the lines feels unauthentic (which is odd because I loved him in The Watchmen).
Basically, there are some cheap thrills and some creativity in putting together the story but for a true Nightmare fan, this remake really is a nightmare.