Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy
Why did it take so long to deliver a reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street to the silver screen? I suppose a better question is, why re-make it at all? The answer to the latter question is all too obvious. Its all about that green stuff that people buy things with. Some twenty six years after the original, Platinum Dunes (the folks behind the Amityville, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th reboots) present this retooled version of Wes Craven’s iconic slasher film. Actually, this isn’t so much a retooled version as it is a retread with a bigger budget. Perhaps the most interesting fact about this movie is that its the directorial debut of hot shot music video helmer Samuel Bayer (Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit). Why its taken him so long to do a feature is beyond me, but why he’s chosen a moody and atmospheric property like A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t surprising at all. Bayer’s take on this nightmarish tale of a group of small town teenagers who find themselves harassed by a burned maniac in their dreams, unfolds in very much the same fashion as the original.
Filling in for veteran cinematic slasher Robert England is a perfectly cast Jackie Earle Haley (last year’s Watchman). To Haley’s great credit, he does bring a fitting sardonic tone and nasty wit to the legendary Freddy Krueger. He also manages to pay homage to England all while finding a way to make this character his own. Bayer’s direction is stylish to a certain extent. Many of the transitions from reality to dream world are eerily effective, and Bayer and his screenwriters do a good job tricking the audience into believing which characters might make it through to the end. Having said that though, there’s something incredibly bland about this venture. Much of that has to do with the fact that we’ve seen this all before (a fate that befalls most remakes).
Craven’s original film actually benefited from its low budget. It was a product of its time and as a result, it became a pop culture phenomenon. This update certainly offers up a few good scares and Bayer does his best to amp up the moody atmosphere, but in the end, this Nightmare on Elm Street made me appreciate Craven’s original more. In fact, I’d be so bold as to say that while this take is stronger than many of the original’s sequels, it can’t hold a candle to The Dream Warriors and New Nightmare. — Adam Mast, May 2010