A Nightmare on Elm Street
(18) 95 min
Horror remakes seem to be one of the most reliable money spinners in Hollywood right now. And Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes are specialists in this subgenre already giving us an excellent new Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 and passable ‘reimaginings’ of Friday the 13th, The Amityville Horror and The Hitcher. Horror purists my wail and bang their fists as their past is rewritten but they’ve been fun, disposable popcorn fodder that have uped the tempo of their source material.
Now the scared cow that is A Nightmare on Elm Street gets a reboot, the premise is the same, as the razor fingered Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) comes back to haunt the dreams of Springwood’s teens. With the rather nasty side effect that if he kills you in your sleep you die in real life.
Our teen protagonists (including Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Decker and Rooney Mara, taking on the Nancy role as made famous by Heather Langenkamp) are essentially disposable but are only really on screen to be sliced up and look sleep deprived. Freddy was always the star of NOES, and Haley is inspired casting, doing his best with the lines he’s given (‘why are you screaming … I haven’t even cut you yet’ being delivered with particular menace) and there’s a nice update on Krueger’s charred make-up. Unfortunately, much like the later entries in the original series, over exposure lessens Freddy’s fright factor. When he’s kept in the shadows he’s a wonderfully creepy cinematic villain.
Remakes are always a strange proposition and the core idea is still clever, but of course it was an idea Wes Craven had back in 1984. Nightmare 2010 seems content to go over old ground rather than taking the concept and heading in new directions, tellingly all the most visually striking scenes are lifted directly from Craven’s first film. A missed opportunity as with today’s special effects there could have been some wonderfully surreal dream sequences, instead music video director Samuel Bayer simply does a competent job despite some lapses in logic (how does a teen post video footage of his own death on the net? Can you really fall asleep while swimming?). It’s never really scary but it’s far better than the disgrace that was Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare back in 1991.