A Nightmare on Elm Street Review

By Apr 30, 2010 Comment (1)

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Yes, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the best remake Platinum Dunes has produced, but the reason behind that is also the film’s handicap. For the most part, Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer’s screenplay hems incredibly close to Craven’s original. There comes a point in the film, however, where staying faithful to the source material becomes a bit too problematic. Mainstream audiences, particularly those who didn’t grow up with Krueger, will be unaffected, but horror fans may soon grow bored with the lack of individuality in the scripting department. And then just as the film threatens to overthrow its predecessor by changing (for the better) Krueger’s origin story, it backs off, once again sacrificing innovation for tradition…read more [Hollywood.com]

Of all the horror remakes in recent years, A Nightmare on Elm Street feels perhaps the most superfluous. Rightly or wrongly, the specter of Freddy Krueger holds a hallowed place in the genre, rising higher than any of his fellow boogeymen in stature and influence. Trying to remake him feels sacrilegious somehow… especially without Robert Englund in the role.On the other hand, this new Nightmare recaptures the spirit of the Wes Craven original better than many of the jokey and laughably inferior sequels.
It takes its monster seriously and endeavors to deliver him as a credible menace rather than some kind of wisecracking mascot. And while Jackie Earle Haley can’t help but echo Englund’s iconic performance, he also renders the character more three-dimensional than any previous incarnation. It takes some time to get used to his face — his recessed eyes so different from Englund’s bulging whites — but one ultimately gets the feeling that this Krueger is in respectful hands…read more [Mania]

A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster
A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster

The new “Nightmare” is an enormously joyless affair, launching right out of the gate with an oppressive feel that never dissipates. Director Samuel Bayer (a music video legend) seems to think the best way to strike out on his own with this iconic material is to play it emo, with a cast of fashion models sulking around the frame, which scrubs away the needed adolescent panic that makes Freddy’s reign of terror all the more frenzied.
This is a dour film, hastily sprinting into conflict, making absolutely no effort to develop the community or the characters. Bayer just wants a pretty picture with pretty actors, plunging the audience into violent dreamscapes without even so much as a hello. Nancy who? Freddy did what? What’s the razor glove about? These kids have parents? Bayer’s more interested in the lighting design than he is winding a dazzling tale of mental invasion and teen paranoia…read more [DarkHorizons]

Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street
Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wearing more realistic extreme-burn-victim makeup and afforded longer pre-ghoul flashbacks in order to play the role straight (at least until some de rigueur lame puns later on), Haley still doesn’t get the chance to lend Freddy genuinely creepy dimension. Just one scene as quietly, insidiously suggestive as the actor’s car date with Jane Adams in “Children” would have been a game-change.
But this “Nightmare” is too busy cramming in routine shock cuts to take such a risk. Likewise, no time is devoted to establishing premise (it’s assumed we’ve seen prior incarnations, so why bother?), atmosphere or character depth. And while the original pic wasn’t so hot in those departments either, it nevertheless felt more grounded in a credible world…read more [Variety]

Kyle Gallner stars as Quentin and Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street Katie Cassidy stars as Kris in A Nightmare on Elm Street Katie Cassidy stars as Kris in A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street Photos

The young actors in the film were all very good especially Dekker and Gallner, who both show a lot of potential on the big screen. In addition, I was quite struck by Mara’s performance as Nancy, which I thought was very vulnerable and layered. Samuel Bayer’s direction is good and it was great to see him include iconic moments from the first film like the bathtub scene and the ending. This is director Bayer’s feature film debut but he has been one of the top music video directors for decades having been the man behind Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, so you know that visually this movie is very exciting. The script was great and again, I really thought the choice to leave Freddy’s innocents in question was brilliant. Showing the origin was also great and something as a fan that I have been waiting a long time to see on screen…read more [Movie Web]

A Nightmare on Elm Street, Katie Cassidy stars as Kris
A Nightmare on Elm Street, Katie Cassidy stars as Kris

Story wise, the remake follows the original’s beats pretty closely. There are a few variations (it’s updated for the 2000s), but it’s basically the same formula: dream, death scene, repeat. If anything, I would say that the film moves along at a much brisker pace that many of the sequels yet, at the same time, it manages to be somewhat boring. During the first 45 minutes, there’s essentially no story progression; it’s just dreams and killing without much explanation. Only when there are two characters left halfway through the second act are any explanations given. Once the story does get going, it goes full steam but there are three really excellent ideas presented that never reach their full potential. In fact, they’re so great, it makes me wish I could’ve seen a movie where all of them play a huge prominent role…read more [Bloody-Disgusting]

A scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street

And Freddy? Gone is the campy direction of the later Nightmare films, replaced by a “real” Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a burn victim with a back-story. A suspected child molester turned dream-invader, Krueger’s new melted look is representative of actual burn victims, but gives Earle Haley zero facial movement or expression, forcing him to mumble his unavoidable one-liners. Even as a sympathetic character, Freddy still makes jokes about wet dreams.
Director Samuel Bayer comes from a world of music videos and commercials, and it’s apparent. There’s a reason why the ads for Nightmare look fantastic…it’s shot like one big ad. The flick is glossy, slick and clean…but rarely scary. The “grit” comes from its real world logic, which it toys with only to push aside in favor of ridiculous kills and moments of fan service…read more [UGO]

Nightmare on Elm Street Wallpaper
A Nightmare on Elm Street Wallpaper

Faced with everyone knowing the drill with Freddy then, the rebooters here — writers Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer and director Samuel Bayer — seek a little sympathy for their devil. To that end, actor’s actor Jackie Earle Haley has been cast as Freddy, whose dreamtime terrorizing of a handful of attractive teens — led by Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner, cast out of the Kristen Stewart- Robert Pattinson school of pasty, glum adolescence — comes with a fleshed-out backstory of how a friendly preschool gardener met a possibly unjust, fiery end at the hands of a parental lynch mob. But Freddy’s genesis just isn’t that helpful to the cause of unnerving moviegoers. Psychoanalyzing a murdering creep didn’t work with Rob Zombie’s ” Halloween” (poor, abused Michael Myers), and it’s a mostly ludicrous diversion here, despite Haley’s game turn in the burn mask…read more [Los Angeles Times]

Jackie Earle Haley stars as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street

The story’s socio-political message is blunt and potent. Your parents, it says, are sedaters, trying to control you with their silence, evasion and lies. These guardians of the official adult culture, the soothing, fraudulent status quo, want you to be ignorant both of the man who can harm you and of the knowledge that might save you. When the kids beg for help, the grownups advise them to “Try and get some sleep.” Only Freddy tells them the truth — “You really shouldn’t fall asleep” — just before he slaughters them.
But since Freddy is also the ultimate horror image of an abusive father-figure, the plot of the original Nightmare and this borderline-gripping remake plays like a emergency session in psychoanalysis. Interpret your dreams, come to grips with the past, confront your demons and you shall be free. Unless audiences make the movie a hit, and a sequel appears in a year or so — and the whole cycle of torture and revenge recommences like a dreadful dream from which you can’t awake…read more [Time.com]

Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Holbrook and Thomas Dekker stars as Jesse Braun in A Nightmare on Elm Street
Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Holbrook and Thomas Dekker stars as Jesse Braun in A Nightmare on Elm Street

Forget about the plot, the actors and the director. What you require to make a new “Nightmare on Elm Street” are these three off-the-shelf sound effects: 1. A sudden, loud clanging noise mixed with a musical chord. 2. Snicker-snack sounds, which Freddy Krueger’s steel finger claws make every time they are seen. 3. A voice deepener, to drop Freddy’s speaking voice to an ominous level.
On top of that, you need your sudden cuts, your lighting from below, your thump-thump-thumps and of course a dog that barks at something unseen in the night, so that your teenage heroine can go out on the lawn in bare feet and flimsy PJs and call “Rufus! Rufus! Here, boy!” You know in your bones that Rufus is now checking into Doggie Heaven…read more [Roger Ebert]

Jackie Earle Haley stars as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street
Jackie Earle Haley stars as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street Info

 

Opens: Friday, April 30 (Warner Bros.)
Production:
Platinum Dunes
Director:
Samuel Bayer
Cast:
Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Kellan Lutz
Screenwriters:
Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
Rated R, 95 minutes

A Nightmare on Elm Street Video Review [IGN]

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