By Dave Campbell | April 30, 2010
Director: Samuel Bayer
Writer: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer (screenplay) Wes Craven (characters)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
A Nightmare on Elm Street follows teenagers Nancy (Rooney Mara), Kris (Katie Cassidy), Quentin (Kyle Gallner), Jesse (Thomas Dekker) and Dean (Kellan Lutz), who are all high school friends that live on Elm Street in present day. Each of them begin to discuss being troubled by their dreams each night about a scary man in a red and green striped sweater, fedora, a gardening glove with knives on the fingers and a horribly burned face named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley). You guessed it…they’re all having the same dream!
At random, Freddy begins to terrorize each teenager in the twisted halls of their dreams, where he has the control, and the only way they can escape is to wake up. Several of the teens soon suffer bloody, violent deaths and the others realize that “what happens in their dreams happens for real”. Counting on each-other, the four surviving teens seek out the truth about Freddy and uncover how they are linked to this wickedly evil man. Self induced insomnia and all, they battle against the secrets of their parents and why their memories as children have been repressed.
Entombed in their past, Freddy has returned to their nightmares to collect their lives as revenge for what they have done to him.
*Caution – Spoilers Ahead
Let’s first get this right out in the open…in this version of Nightmare, written by Wesley Strickand and Eric Heisserer, Freddy’s character (pre-burned) is the Gardener/Handyman of a Preschool who just so happens to live in the basement of said preschool during 1996-1997. I am well aware that watching a movie like this always requires some suspension of disbelief, but as a father in modern times I also know that there is not a single parent out there that would put their children in this situation.
You’re already asking me to believe that a man lives in the dreams of teenagers and is killing them in this state of consciousness. Now you’re asking me to believe that every parent was totally content with putting their 4 and 5-year-old children in a school where an extremely creepy man lives in the basement? Had Nightmare taken place in the same time-frame as the original, the children would have been in preschool in the late 60’s and this premise would have had some feasibility since public awareness to the dangers and signs of child molesters didn’t really exist…but I digress.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) suffers from the same problems as other modern day horror films; technology has taken photography and effects to such a beautifully crisp state, that the unsanitary atmosphere the genre once had is now sterilized. With subject matter this dark the visuals should give you the feeling that you are crawling out of a stagnant gutter right along with the characters, but it doesn’t.
The death scenes and memorable moments from the original Nightmare series are borrowed and executed generically throughout the film, and this kind of defines the movie as a whole. Samuel Bayer’s direction, the acting, the cinematography… sure they’re all “OK” I guess, but let’s be real here – wouldn’t you rather have a Coca-Cola or even a Pepsi than a Sam’s Choice Cola?
Jackie Earle Haley knows his way around creepy and really showed that he is a great resource for the world of horror. His talent is abundant, his voice is amazing, and the man has wonderful presence for the element, but I think he should be used for something new and fresh. Robert Englund embodied the character of Freddy for 8 films, and nobody will ever be able to take this character away from him. Jackie, dude…you’ve got to stop playing sex offenders man; I love you, but it’s really going to become a typecasting and social issue for you.
Micheal Bay needs to step away from producing horror. This remake run of 70’s & 80’s classics he’s been on just needs to stop and the only way this is going to happen is if people stop going to see them. Dr. Dave’s advice to those of you reading this review…go buy Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) on DVD/Blu-ray and save yourself the side effects of the generic.