Film Review – A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street

It’s finally happened. Freddy has returned to Elm Street and swathes of teenagers are dying by his bladed glove. It was inevitable that A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) would get remade eventually, bearing in mind the huge success the original franchise had. It should also come as no surprise that the movie is made by Platinum Dreams who were also responsible for the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hitcher and The Amityville Horror. Recycling old horror movies is their bread and butter.

The basic plot is as you’d expect, Freddy Kruger, burned to cinders with a vicious glove, stalks teenagers in their sleep. The reasons behind the stalking are gone into in greater depth than the original, ironically this is one of the reasons the film is flawed. By looking more closely at why Freddy kills, we are asked to accept that a group of teens has collective and total amnesia regarding incidents from their childhood. Wesley Strick has focussed on the story of the Pied Piper but the progression of the plot makes this a nonsense. Furthermore, the expostion scene of Freddy’s fate at the hands of the enraged parents requires major conjecture for it to make any sense at all.

Kruger is more of a sadist than in the original. At one point he tells a victim that the brain lives on for another 7 minutes after the heart stops beating “So we have another 6 minutes to play”. His cruelty throws into doubt suggestions that he is wrongly accused. Strick decided to strip out the “molester freed on a technicality” part of the original story, and Krueger is now the victim of an angry mob of parents who don’t want to put their children on the stand in court. It’s done to shed doubt on whether or not he is the monster we assume him to be, but for the film to work, for any potential future franchise to work, he has to be a monster, no other explanation will suffice.

There are plenty of set pieces here that are recognisable from the original movie, but what seems to be lacking is a sense of pace and terror. Director Sam Bayer, who has won numerous accolades for his music videos, seems unable to hold the pace on this, his first feature film. Indeed most of the scares are of the sudden shock variety. Effective at first, this soon becomes tiresome and wearing. The final act could do with the action sequence of the original movie where Nancy sets up booby traps for Freddy. Instead we are given the resolution to the “why” of Freddy’s actions and while this is the most original part of the movie and the most disturbing it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Jackie Earle Hayley deserves better material than this, in stripping out Freddy’s humour, we are left with a bland bogeyman. The burn make up makes him look reptillian rather than horrific and his stalking of the teens induces neither menace or tension.

Rooney Mara plays Nancy, more of an introvert than Heather Langenkamp in the original, she cries prettily, screams well, and delivers a final line with aplomb. No Johnny Depp boyfriend for her, instead an uneasy friendship with Quentin, played by Kyle Gallagher, another outsider, who self-medicates to stay awake. Interestingly enough this seems to be a rather chaste bunch of teens, even the blonde bombshell Kris (Katie Cassidy) who replaces the role of Tina from the first movie and suffers the same fate spends the night with her ex-boyfriend Jesse with a bra on under her night shirt.

Ultimately this new nightmare falls between tools stools, neither complete reinvention nor blow by blow remake. It ends up a surprisingly flaccid experience, with none of the roller-coaster thrills that made the original so enjoyable.

This was originally posted on 10th May, 2010 over at Blockbuster Buzz, in shortened form.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on May 25, 2010.

One Response to “Film Review – A Nightmare on Elm Street”

  1. […] scooped the announcement that Rooney Mara had been cast as Salander. Mara, last seen in the Nightmare on Elm Street remake earlier this year, seems very canny casting. She has a slightly otherworldly air about her, and is […]

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