It really is time that the word 'reimagining' is substituted with the more apt term, 'reconstituted'. The 2010 version of A Nightmare On Elm Street is the cinematic equivalent of mechanically reclaimed meat, with all the nutrition and tastiest morsels taken out - leaving only the icky spittle to be reheated for the undiscerning consumer.
The premise is very similar to Wes Craven's original, as a group of teenagers are stalked and murdered in their dreams by Señor Krueger. Those who survive face a fight to stay awake or risk being churned into Turkey Twizzler filler. The major plot addition is an increased focus on Freddy's background and the kiddie-fiddling events that led to his current predicament. In a procession of laughably bad flashbacks, it emerges that the parents of Krueger's victims didn't even think about contacting the police and instead went straight down the vigilante route. Bafflingly, the kids have all forgotten the surrounding traumatic circumstances and some even ponder whether the former school caretaker was actually innocent! Such nonsensical narrative developments lead to so much head-scratching that you’re advised to cut your fingernails prior to seeing this movie (but please don't!) or risk emerging from the cinema with a complexion not dissimilar to Krueger himself.
As is the norm for recent horror remakes, the supposed scares are all tediously signposted ages in advance, as if director Samuel Bayer was simply following a set of instructions. For example, every time one of the characters pauses and the sound falls silent, up pops an attempt to jolt the audience - through either a total red herring in the form of some random walking into shot, accompanied by a burst of noise, or Freddy pouncing with his bladed fingers. Similarly, the dumb demographic is catered for with a few shots of flesh courtesy of female lead Nancy (Rooney Mara) stripping off to get into the bath. You see, that's exactly what any actual human being would do when desperately trying to stay awake. Get into the f**king bath. Obviously the shower would have a far more sleep-inducing effect. Guess what happens next? She falls asleep. Cue Freddy's blades predictably emerging from the water between her legs before she suddenly awakens. It requires a bit of a moral bypass to champion the cause of a mass murdering paedophile, but one can only hope that Freddy gets a move on and brings the end credits closer.
However, the absolute epitome of stupidity surfaces when Nancy is researching some of Freddy's previous victims online. She finds a video blog from one of her former classmates during which he is actually garrotted. Presumably Freddy must have uploaded the entry himself and written a convincing letter to the authorities to allow the footage to remain online. Never before has the word 'sheesh' felt like a more appropriate reaction.
Many fans were outraged when Robert Englund was not asked to reprise his role as Krueger for the reboot. It was the right decision, as the maniacal glint in the eye and sense of zany excitement the actor brought to the role would have felt incongruous in such creatively bereft surroundings. Jackie Earle Haley, an accomplished actor, is not served well by the make-up department, as Krueger now resembles a fairly anonymous zombie rather than a thin crust Margarita pizza, while his voice monotonously drones on like an old school WWE wrestler during a pre-bout promo spot.
On the plus side, director Bayer does ensure that there is a nice visual flow to the movie, with the shifts between reality and the dream world slickly dealt with. The actors are hardly to blame for the woeful characterisation and do try their best with the material, particularly Mara, and Kyle Gallner as the social outcast Quentin. The score also has some eerie qualities that occasionally tingle the spine and build up an atmosphere but that's soon dispersed by the artistic failures elsewhere - such as CGI that's clearly been done on the cheap.
The remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street only serves to tarnish the legacy of the original franchise, substituting any creative flair with bogstandard writing and direction. It appears that the priority was to make this sleep-inducing production a profitable one, rather than a good one. For those with the mental reasoning capabilities of a crushed gnat, it might well go down a treat. But for the rest of us, it really is time someone slapped a preservation order on Hellraiser before Michael Bay gets his Krueger-style digits on Pinhead...
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