Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street - The Remake

I wasn't expecting high art but I had hoped for something better than what I got.

The unnecessary remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street takes the central theme and some iconic lines and images from Wes Craven's 1984 film but director Samuel Bayer and writers Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer then have no idea of what to do with them. They attempt to retell the origin story of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley playing a child molester again while doing his Rorschach voice from The Watchmen).

In Bayer's Nightmare, Krueger worked at a pre-school as a groundskeeper where he molested the students, especially little Nancy (the older version played by Rooney Mara). Rather than turn to the police, the embarrassed parents perform some vigilante justice on Krueger, setting him ablaze. There's a moment -- a left field moment (typical for this film) when Nancy's quasi-boyfriend Quentin (Kyle Gallner) suddenly states that all of the parents in town were wrong and that, obviously, the preschoolers were making things up (like the kids in Capturing the Friedmans or Witch Hunt). Ahh, this would have made things interesting! Rather than punishing the guilty, the parents had murdered an innocent man! No wonder he's pissed and killing the children of Elm Street!

But, no. As quickly as that idea is introduced it's thrown away again. That's par for the course in this muddled film.

Apart from the retread plot, the biggest problems I had with Bayer's Nightmare were the writing and the casting. The only thing good about the 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street is that it makes a great drinking game. The wretched writing has characters calling each other by name all the time, meaning that taking a drink whenever you hear "Nancy" or "Quentin" will quickly get a viewer hammered.

Meanwhile, the core group of young actors that Krueger terrorizes looking anything but young. Freddy's first female victim, Kris (Katie Cassidy) looks older than her mother (Lia D. Mortensen) and seems to be more in danger of breaking a hip than falling victim to Krueger and his unexplained finger-knives. Kyle Gallner seems to have been cast for his ridiculous eyebrows which recall Robert Pattinson but, really, he looks more like David Hemmings. That he wears a Joy Division shirt through the film shows just how out of touch the filmmakers are. Finally, Rooney Mara manages to go through the entire film with one expression; a stunned look as if someone just punched her in the stomach. She manages to make the 1984 performance of Heather Langenkamp as Nancy seem like an Oscar-worthy turn.

If you still feel the need to see this film, wait until you can see it at home with a copious amounts of alcohol.


Richard Doyle said...

"In Bayer's Nightmare, Krueger worked at a pre-school as a groundskeeper"

Really?? So is the remake referencing The Simpsons' parody of the original???

Mike White said...

Totally. Was expecting to see him in a kilt!

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