Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Premise: A remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic. A group of teens are haunted by nightmares of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a burned figure in a fedora hat who wears a glove with knives fastened on the fingertips. As Krueger murders the teens in their dreams, they die in real life.
What Works: There are some flourishes to this new Nightmare on Elm Street that distinguish it from other recent remakes of 1970s and 80s horror films as well as other entries in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film takes advantage of some of the nastier subtext of the original film and actress Rooney Mara, who plays the lead teenager, shows a lot of potential.
What Doesn’t: The main trouble with the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is that the film just isn’t very scary. There is no sense of tension or dread and a lot of the jump scares are not achieved through careful direction and cinematic craft but through the crass use of loud effects dumped onto the soundtrack. The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is further disappointing in its lack of imagination. The remake has none of the novelty or ingenuity that the original and many of its sequels possessed in story and visual style. When the remake tries to recreate some of the scenes of the original, especially the first murder, the remake pales in comparison as it fails to capture a sense of danger or brutality, and the little bit that is new to this film is not done very well and often fails to engage with the manipulation of reality that makes the Nightmare series interesting. Another disappointment of this film is its underwritten characters. Even in the lesser entries of the Nightmare series, one of the strengths of the franchise had been its fleshed out teenage characters. That is not true here, as the characters are all indistinguishable from each other and all of the actors look much older than the teenagers they are supposed to be playing.
Bottom Line: The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is a disappointment. As a remake, the film fails to reinvent the material for a contemporary audience and as a film unto itself this Nightmare is an ineffective horror show.
Episode: #287 (May 9, 2010)