A Nightmare on Elm Street takes serious stab at 80s franchise
There’s no compelling reason as to why you should see the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It lacks the daring, genre-changing feel of the 1984 classic and the filmmakers ironically seem frightened of doing anything different than making a glossier version of what’s been done better before.
Lately, the boogeyman horror genre has regained steam with remakes of Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. Naturally it was only a matter of time before Freddy Kruger got his turn down remake alley. Nightmare had arguably the best gimmick of the boogeyman genre as Freddy invaded his victims’ dreams and could kill them in real life.
One by one, a group of high school students — Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Katie Cassidy (“Arrow”), Kellan Lutz (Legend of Hercules) and Kyle Gallner (Beautiful Creatures) — are being haunted in their dreams by a man they are beginning to remember from when they were younger. Their parents disavow any knowledge or connection to this mysterious Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley, Watchmen (Director’s Cut + BD-Live) [Blu-ray]).
While he doesn’t have Robert Englund’s charisma, Haley is a suitable Freddy fill-in. And he one-ups Englund in making Freddy much more disturbing and terrifying than the somewhat comedic character he became in later installments. It’s the one aspect where the remake improves upon the original. Haley’s Freddy keeps the audience firmly on the side of his victims, even if they’re helpless to stop him.
Screenwriter Wesley Strick sticks fairly close to creator Wes Craven’s original vision. Since his 1984 debut, Freddy has appeared in eight films and Strick is more focused on hitting the already established marks of a Freddy Kruger movie like children jumping rope while chanting “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you” rather than changing everything you thought you knew about Elm Street.
Most disappointingly, Strick doesn’t make much use of the nightmare aspect to get really creative with the deaths and most of Freddy’s victims just get slashed with his gloves as opposed to something truly bizarre.
Samuel Bayer, who’s directed music videos for Blink 182, Garbage and The Offspring, shoots the film with just as vintage a mindset so the cliché elements of figures dating quickly across the screen, long walks down hallways and false scares are all too familiar. If you expect anything to happen, it likely will and the predictable nature makes for a very unsatisfying horror/thriller.
A Nightmare on Elm Street ver. 2 isn’t terrible, but the filmmakers handle the property so safe that it can’t compare to its inspiration. The original wasn’t made in the 1950s and wasn’t in dire need of a more polished version with better technology. The death scenes are well done, the acting better than average for a horror movie and the effects are solid, but the real nightmare is the tragic lack of creativity in this new look of one of the genre’s greatest characters.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures