Dir: Samuel Bayer. US. 2010. 96mins.
Bringing the iconic cinematic bogeyman Freddy Krueger back from the dead, the remake of the 1984 slasher film A Nightmare On Elm Street is a distressingly timid horror movie. Director Samuel Bayer largely adheres to writer-director Wes Craven’s original, but despite character actor Jackie Earle Haley’s presence as Freddy, this would-be franchise reboot seems haunted by its reliance on genre conventions.
Rather than displaying any fresh ideas, music-video director Bayer mindlessly grafts Craven’s narrative framework on top of dreary modern-day horror clichés.
Opening domestically April 30, A Nightmare On Elm Street will benefit greatly from both audience familiarity with Freddy Krueger and a lack of horror competition in the marketplace. But the oncoming one-two punch of Iron Man 2 (May 7) and Robin Hood (May 14) will soon slice significantly into Nightmare’s male fan base.
A group of classmates, including introspective artist Nancy (Rooney Mara), are having the same nightmare in which they’re terrorised by a disfigured, knife-fingered maniac named Freddy Krueger (Haley). But once Nancy’s friends start dying in their sleep, she realizes she must stay awake to avoid the same fate.
Though made on a low budget with spotty acting, Craven’s 1984 offering firmly established Freddy Krueger as a memorable villain. Several misbegotten sequels, including the 2003 Freddy Vs. Jason spin-off, quickly diminished the character’s legacy, but clearly this Nightmare remake is meant to revitalise the franchise by retelling Freddy’s origin story.
But rather than displaying any fresh ideas, music-video director Bayer mindlessly grafts Craven’s narrative framework on top of dreary modern-day horror clichés, resulting in a film that lacks the jolting newness of the original. As for Haley, the remake allows for a more expanded back-story for Freddy, but the man who ably portrayed a sympathetic child molester in Little Children isn’t given enough to work with here to make this bogeyman truly monstrous or indelible.
Production company: Platinum Dunes
Domestic distribution: New Line Cinema
International distribution: Warner Bros. Pictures
Executive producers: Mike Drake, Robert Shaye, Michael Lynne, Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter
Producers: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Co-producer: John Rickard
Screenplay: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer (story by Wesley Strick), based on characters created by Wes Craven
Cinematography: Jeff Cutter
Production designer: Patrick Lumb
Editor: Glen Scantlebury
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Main cast:: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown. Connie Britton. Lia D. Mortensen