Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Nightmare of Elm Street (2010)

Directed by Samuel Bayer.
2010. Rated R, 95 minutes.
Jackie Earle Haley
Rooney Mara
Kyle Gallner
Katie Cassidy
Thomas Dekker
Clancy Brown
Connie Britton

The kids from Elm Street aren’t sleeping because of the horrifically realistic nightmares they’re having. Soon enough, they discover their bad dreams are all of the same man trying kill them. He even succeeds on a number of occasions. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last quarter-century, you know that this guy is Freddy Krueger.

Yup, this is merely a remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic, with the master’s blessings, of course. It’s not a prequel or sequel or even a re-imagining, no matter what you’ve heard. Therein, lies the problem. A sequel attempts to extend a story we already know. A prequel tries to do the same, just in the other direction on the timeline, showing us what got characters we already know to the spot where we first met them. Even a re-imagining extends the story by fleshing out details its predecessor glossed over, or maybe not even mentioned. This is pure remake, doing none of those things. It tries to add in some stuff about Nancy being Freddy’s favorite and expands on Freddy’s torching at the hands of an angry mob of parents. Still, we’re simply watching the same movie, with different people playing the roles and nothing of their own to add.

Like most such films, where it loses to the original is in the intangibles. It’s tale is no longer fresh. In 1984, plenty of slasher flicks had already been made, but none quite like the original Nightmare. In 2010, many of us have seen all of the movies in the franchise and/or a countless number of movies influenced by it. We've moved on to torture porn and 3D gore. We know what to expect. Any fears we may have had with regards to sleeping are checked at the door. While the original was a visual spectacle, psychological attack and a watershed moment for the genre, this is only a movie.

Since it is only a movie, the tension never feels quite high enough. The death scenes are mostly altered or updated versions of what happened in it’s predecessor, but neither better nor worse. Freddy isn't quite menacing enough, either. Thankfully, he’s far from the stand-up comedian version of later Freddy movies, but not quite up to snuff with what the character is in the original. Jackie Earle Haley, who handles the role, is a fine actor. He’s had an excellent career, to this point. I still expect him to at least be nominated for a major award, someday. However, no matter how good he is, he’s simply playing Freddy Krueger. On the other hand, Robert Englund, never before or since better than a B-grade performer in B-grade horror movies, caught lightning in a bottle. He seems to actually be Freddy Krueger.

To be quite honest, the remake is perfectly adequate in every way. It is good enough not to be an abomination, like the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. And if, by some chance, you haven’t seen its predecessor or are new to horror flicks, it might be an excellent thrill ride. There is just nothing here that should cause you to hate it, except for the fact that it isn't the original.

MY SCORE: 6/10


  1. ummm "torture porn and 3D gore"? hmmmm....interesting!

  2. Watch a "Saw" movie, you'll see what I mean.