A NIGHTMARE ON
ELM STREET (2010)
STARRING: Jackie Earle Haley, Katie
Cassidy, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown,
Connie Britton, Lia D. Mortensen, Charles E Tiedje
2010, 102 Minutes, Directed by: Samuel Bayer
the trend of recent re-imaginings of the horror and slasher standards of the
'70s and '80s, A Nightmare on Elm Street takes itself very, very
Let that simmer for a moment .
This is the story of an evil
man who comes back to life in the dreams of the children of those who took the
law into their own hands and burned him alive. The disembodied spirit of the
dead man can kill these offspring in their dreams, which results in their death
in the waking world.
The inherent absurdity of the
scenario is unmistakable, and series creator Wes Craven never shied away from it
(the original's sequels certainly didn't).
Now, director Samuel Bayer
drains the ridiculous from the idea, instead concentrating on the angst-ridden
lives of its multiple, disposable heroes and unnecessarily focusing on Fred
"Freddy" Krueger's (Jackie Earle Haley) life just before his fiery death. The
result is a predictable string of gotcha moments made pitiful by a grave tone.
The kids on Elm Street are all
having the same nightmare of a Christmas-sweater-clad, fedora-wearing,
knife-fingered man with a burnt face . . .
These teenagers are
underdeveloped to the point of not even falling into types and are mainly
defined by their relationships with each other. Dean (Kellan Lutz) is friends
with Kris (Katie Cassidy), who once dated Jesse (Thomas Dekker), who's friends
with Quentin (Kyle Gallner), who has a crush on Nancy (Rooney Mara). Nancy is a
waitress at a local diner and draws in her spare time, and that's the extent of
any form of characterization to be had for any of these eventual victims.
"Haley, behind all the makeup, makes a mumbling Freddie Krueger . . ."
At the same diner, Dean has an
accident with a badly aimed knife, trying to get at the burnt man and finding
his jugular. It's a startling moment, not because of the gore (which is pretty
detailed), but because for a moment, it appears that screenwriters Wesley Strick
and Eric Heisserer might try a new trick in making the deaths appear as suicides
in the real world. There's no such luck, as the next one is a recreation of one
from the original, with Freddy tossing his victim around the room with
bone-crunching effects on the soundtrack before using those blades of his (Bayer
also recreates the Freudian shot of Krueger's hand emerging between Nancy's legs in the
Krueger plays with his victims'
conception of reality, while Strick and Heisserer play Duck, Duck, Goose with
the teenage leads. Possible protagonists enter and leave the narrative, as
Freddy time and time again uses his razor-sharp finger extensions.
Finally, the script settles on
a pair of characters to follow through to the end, although that's mainly
because the rest have been killed off. The secrets of their past with Krueger
come to light. Nancy's mom (Connie Britton) leaves her daughter's preschool
class photo in a drawer, even though she wants Nancy to forget about that
terrible episode of her life. Perhaps throwing away or destroying the photograph
would have been a better idea?
Krueger was the gardener at the
preschool where all the kids now dead or still being tortured by nightmares
went. The youngsters came forward to their parents about abuse by his hand, and
for some unknown reason, Jesse believes Krueger to innocent, the kids (himself
included by that thought process) to be liars, and the deaths to be the result
of him seeking retribution. It's a pretty lousy red herring plot point, and one
the movie stubbornly holds to.
These differences from the
original story add nothing worthwhile to the proceedings, and the remake stays
true to the intercutting of dreams and reality. Dream sequences come and go and
come and go, until the entire device becomes obnoxious. Part of it is
familiarity with the gimmick, and the screenplay's use of the dream-fakeout and
fakeout of the first fakeout so often that the movie never builds any sort of
suspense, only frustration.
Bayer's industrial dreamscapes
are no different than the rest in the series except in the obvious increase in
budget, and Haley, behind all the makeup, makes a mumbling Krueger. Although, in
the movie's approach to the material, the role is entirely toothless and dull.
As is the case with most
remakes, this one is pretty pointless . . .
- Mark Dujsik