Samuel Bayer's 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was widely reviled by both critics and fans, with a 15% average on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.2/10 user rating on IMDB (by comparison, Wes Craven's original boasts a 7.5/10). Now, Robert Englund — whose iconic performance as Freddy Krueger was reinterpreted by a cat-faced Jackie Earle Haley in the remake — is diagnosing what went wrong with the updated version. In a nutshell: the film's nubile victims weren't carefree enough at the beginning of the film for audiences to invest in their eventual downfall.
“You don”t ever see any of the people happy go-lucky, they”re never untainted,” said Englund during an appearance at the Film & Comic Con in Belfast, Ireland (via Bloody Disgusting). “You need to see before and after so you can invest emotionally with the children. They”re practically zombies from the get-go because they”re haunted by Freddy and I think that was a miscalculation.”
In fairness, Nancy and Tina are already haunted by Freddy when the 1984 version opens, but I think Englund is specifically referring here to the more dour sensibility Bayer brings to his group of menaced teens from the start. Rooney's Mara's Nancy, for example, is significantly more tortured and sullen than Heather Langenkamp's when the film opens. It's an interesting theory, but of course the 2010 Nightmare has so many problems you can't really boil it down to just one element. After all, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is considered by many to be the best of the sequels, and the teenage characters in that one start out in a psychiatric hospital.