Itís not much of a compliment to say that a movie wasnít nearly as bad as it could have been. But that sums up my assessment of this remake of the 1984 slashfest that introduced us to the burn-scarred, fedora-wearing, razor-fingered Freddy Krueger (and Johnny Depp), who killed teenagers in their dreams and, subsequently, in reality. Nothing much has changed in a quarter-century since all the high schoolers still exist to be diced, sliced and spliced once they fall asleep. The knife-wielding psychopath of slumber is now played by Jackie Earle Haley (LITTLE CHILDREN) who, despite being a very talented character actor, lacks the maniacal gravitas and glee of Robert Englund in the original role. Thereís no improvement either in the screenplay of Eric Heisserer and Wesley Strick in which the common thread among the juvenile victims is that they were all molested by their nocturnal pursuer as children and have no memory of it. Thatís as unlikely a scenario to me as all four guys in THE HANGOVER (2009) not being able to recall what happened to them the night before. Most of the material is derivative of either much better horror films like CARRIE (1976) and THE SHINING (1980) or shock-value scenes a la the hypodermic needle to the chest in PULP FICTION (1994). Simply put, this is a horror flick in which lack of originality diminishes its scare factor since everyone in the audience knows precisely whatís coming next. Here comes a dream sequence. Up comes the ominous music accompanied by lunatic laughter. Slash go the blades and splash goes the blood from the newest youthful victim. Itís a formula for this series that has neither changed nor gotten any better with age. CRITICíS GRADE: C

CRITICíS NOTE: Believe it or not, two of the eight movies in the original NIGHTMARE franchise are worthy of recommendation. Fans of the series point to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) with some justification as the best of the bunch since it was well-written with some unnerving special effects. My personal favorite, though, was the highly original WES CRAVENíS NEW NIGHTMARE (1994) where Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) begins to inhabit the dreams of the actual actors, creators and writers of his movies with chilling results.