US Release Date: 04-30-2010
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
- Jackie Earle Haley, as
- Freddy Krueger
- Kyle Gallner, as
- Quentin Smith
- Rooney Mara, as
- Nancy Holbrook
- Katie Cassidy, as
- Kris Fowles
- Thomas Dekker, as
- Jesse Braun
- Kellan Lutz, as
- Dean Russell
- Clancy Brown, as
- Alan Smith
- Connie Britton, as
- Dr. Gwen Holbrook
- Lia D. Mortensen as
- Nora Fowles
Jackie Earle Haley plays a darker Freddy, but in a duller film.
The original Nightmare on Elm Street is of course, a 1980s horror classic. Although the special effects haven't held up very well, the initial idea; that of a deformed killer with blades on his hands stalking our dreams still holds up well. A remake with today's CGI seems natural. However, despite a darker portrayal by Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy and much enhanced special effects, this modern updating is a pretty standard horror film that lacks the original's spark.
I'm no expert on the Elm Street films so I can't tell you all the subtle or even the not so subtle differences of this remake. I know that it follows the very basic outline at least. Freddy Krueger's origin has been slightly changed, but certainly the general gist remains the same. The biggest differences are the removal of the humor that had crept heavily into the later Nightmare films and a lack of a sense of fun.
A group of teenagers (isn't it always?) all begin to have similar nightmares. They all involve a man with a burned face and blades on his hand. When a couple of them are killed in their sleep, Nancy and Quentin begin to investigate the past while trying to stay awake. They soon learn that the man's name is Freddy Krueger and that he is a part of their and their parent's past. But how do you kill something that only exists in your dreams?
The 1980s were the heydey of the teen-slasher film. The Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises were a staple of the eighties, not to mention a plethora of B-horror films. In those days you knew what to expect. You'd have a group of good looking teen/twenty-somethings (or more often, twenty-somethings pretending to be teens) in some remote or enclosed setting who would then proceed to be stalked and killed in increasingly gruesome ways. Along the way you were guaranteed to see some nudity and plenty of gratuitous and gory violence. Most of all though, the idea was to provide thrills and scare with a sense of fun. It was actually a very fine line to walk. You had to provide fun and scares in equal measure.
While this remake manages to provide some scares and I appreciated the dark portrayal by Jackie Earle Haley, in the process it lost nearly all sense of fun. As an example of what I mean, there is one scene in this movie where Nancy, the heroine, is taking a bath (sans nudity of course) and she falls briefly asleep. Freddy's clawed hand rises from the water between her splayed legs until a knock at the bathroom door wakes Nancy up and Freddy's hand slides back into the water. It's the kind of scene that makes you laugh nervously and squirm a bit and the movie needed more moments like it. And speaking of nudity, the complete lack of it here also removes an important part of the film. The extra titillation was actually an important part of those old films and added to the fun.
I was never really bored by this remake, it's polished and fast paced enough to keep you entertained, but it's completely by the numbers. Even a remake requires more originality than this one is able to provide.
Nightmare on Elm Street.
A good film creates an emotional reaction in the audience. You like a film because it made you feel something for the characters or the situation. You can hate a film because it is poorly put together or boring, but that is at least an emotional reaction. So in a way, a two star movie can be worse than a one star film.
That is the case with A Nightmare on Elm Street. I came away feeling nothing. All of the killings are telegraphed long before they happen. The teens only die in their sleep, so you know when they are safe and when they are not. None of the teens are given enough personality to make me care if any of them survive.
The only reason to see this film is for Freddy, but he is not in enough of it. He should have been allowed to have more play time with his victims. It is only in the dream sequences that the movie finds any excitement. Like Scott, I missed the dark humor, provided by Freddy. His lines here are pointless, “Why are you screaming? I haven't even cut you yet!”
This movie is like an easy puzzle. It ends up being a decent picture, but it only has about 50 pieces to it. My 16 year old had never seen the original, and thought well enough of this version. I guess ignorance can be bliss.
Photos © Copyright New Line Cinema (2010)