After watching him in eight feature films and countless other pop culture iterations, you'd be forgiven for finding the jokey O.G. Freddy Krueger a tad outdated. Samuel Bayer's upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street remake seeks to remedy that collective cultural exhaustion with a return to what scares us most about Freddy -- namely, the grotesque boogeyman's ability to haunt our dreams. While Bayer himself was caught up en route to his WonderCon panel, stars Haley, Thomas Dekker, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, and Katie Cassidy were on hand to present an extended scene highlighting Freddy's run-in with Twilight star Kellan Lutz, who plays a high school jock named Dean.
Scene description (spoiler alert!) and more with Jackie Earle Haley and the cast after the jump.
[Warning: the following scene description contains spoilers.]
It's a dark and stormy night outside of the Springwood Diner, where Dean (Kellan Lutz) sits alone in a booth. (Twilighters will be delighted at Lutz's solo scene... until they remember how everyone not named Nancy Thompson ended up in the original.) The strapping Dean looks fairly miserable; he's been chugging coffee nonstop in an effort not to fall asleep. A waitress walks by, ignoring him, and Dean gets up to investigate only to find the entire diner empty. He walks through the darkened kitchen, a dark and dreamlike scene where the flaming stove indicates Dean's reality has turned into a nightmare. Behind him, Freddy's claw hand appears. Dean turns as Freddy lunges -- and suddenly he wakes up, still sitting in the diner. He looks down to find his hand bleeding where Freddy just cut him; as his friend Kris (Katie Cassidy) enters, Dean hides his hand.
He tells her he hasn't slept in three days and insists his dreams are real; Dean seems to be one of the first teens to realize what's going on, but he sounds crazy trying to explain it all to Kris. He accidentally spills coffee on her and she excuses herself to clean it up, leaving Dean idly playing with a steak knife on the table. He falls asleep, and Freddy attacks. Kris returns to see Dean struggling with himself, holding the knife to his own throat, and then... bad news, Twilighters.
Backstage, the Nightmare cast spoke further with press about their remake, which Haley called a "more serious, darker, and scarier" film.
Thomas Dekker ("The Sarah Connor Chronicles"), who plays Nancy's boyfriend Jesse, put it plainly. "I think this movie is made for the generation that the original films aren't working for anymore. That's the bottom line. The people who loved this film and hold the original film, especially at the beginning of the series, in their hearts with a lot of love -- regardless of the camp, or the comedy, or the humor. But the kids of today watch the original and find it funny; it doesn't scare them. And that's a shame because the idea is still terrifying and the idea, maybe, exceeds the execution that this generation is used to. So I think this remake's purpose is to reinvent this idea, and still terrify a generation that the original isn't working for anymore."
A new element introduced to up the fright factor is something called a "micro-nap," based on real-life short-term sleep episodes that can occur when one is sleep-deprived. In the film, characters fighting off sleep can still fall prey to Freddy by lapsing into micro-naps that leave them vulnerable. "Essentially, it's a complete blend of reality with the dream world, where sometimes you don't know if we're dreaming or if we're awake," Kyle Gallner explained. "You could be walking down the street and suddenly [Freddy's] in your face, and seeing him can wake you up and you haven't moved, but in this 30 seconds of being asleep you've gone through this complete and total hell."
Bayer's play on dream and waking states aside, this Nightmare's success will rest heavily on the shoulders of the new Freddy. To give the iconic character his own new twist, Haley began by studying serial killers -- but then switched gears to a different tack. "I realized, I'm going down the wrong road here," he said. "My job wasn't to really get into the mind and understand a serial killer -- it was to embrace the fact that this was the main character of a campfire story. He was a mythical Boogeyman. When I realized that it was incredibly freeing and it allowed me to go after this character."
"That's what he is to me, this dream demon that represents this unstoppable fear," Haley continued. "I've always felt that one of the most vulnerable places you are [in] is when you're lying in your bed asleep. This is a dangerous world we live in. I don't know about you guys, but I've been awakened at night by horrific nightmares. So to me, it represents those fears but it mostly represents that culture of the campfire story. For some reason, we love to embrace it in the right genre -- this sick, horrific, telling of stories so that we can giggle while we scare the shit out of one another."
Freddy's grotesque new face lift, which took between three and six hours to put on, transforms Haley into a Freddy covered in prosthetic burn scars that his cast mates found intimidating and horrifying at first. "I remember you all acting weird around me for about a week," Haley said to them.
"We'd see you in the morning, like 'Hey Jackie, what's up?'" said Gallner, recalling seeing Haley on set before and after his make-up was applied. "And all of a sudden, Jackie's not there anymore; we see the Freddy make-up. It was almost like it was a totally different person playing Freddy."
"The worst thing was, you'd be in the make-up and you'd be so nice," added Dekker. "I'm hanging upside down, and he's supposed to be menacing and he'd be like, 'This kid's been up there too long, get him down!'"
Haley didn't just terrify his co-stars when in full Freddy make-up; he even scared himself on occasion: "Playing these different characters, I'm always getting used to looking at a different character in the mirror. And at the end of the day, they take it off and there's this funky looking guy that I go home with. But there have been times where I've walked past a mirror or some reflective surface, looked over, and first saw Freddy. And that sh*t ain't cool, man. Seriously, I did a double take -- no, no, it's me. That's not right."