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A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

AS HORROR remakes go, Samuel Bayer’s reworking of Wes Craven’s 1984 classic A Nightmare On Elm Street is better than most. But it’s still pointless.

The latest remake to emerge from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes horror production company, the film attempts to kick-start yet another long morbid franchise by exploring the origins of the slashing a la Halloween and Friday The 13th.

But while the paeodophile element of Freddy Krueger’s crime is played up, and the violence is arguably more hard-hitting, the chill factor is somehow more muted, while Jackie Earle Haley struggles to convince (or terrorise) as much as Robert Englund’s iconic performance in the original.

The story follows a fairly similar path, picking up in the wake of the slaying of a teenager in a diner by an invisible attacker and following Nancy (Rooney Mara) and misfit Quentin (Kyle Gallner) as they attempt to make sense of the claw-fingered figure haunting their nightmares.

Could his new presence be related to a string of teenage deaths? What do their parents know about it? And can they keep themselves awake long enough to prevent Freddy from coming for them?

The main problem with most of those questions is that the answers are woefully predictable. Indeed, in between the skillfully executed set pieces, Bayer’s film seems content to countdown to its obligatory face-off finale and go through the horror motions.

There is some fun to be had with Krueger’s back story, and whether or not he really did commit the crimes he was accused of… but once that mystery is stripped away, the more horrific elements of his acts are brought to the fore and give Haley more of a chance to play.

Prior to that, he’s reduced to cheesy one liners uttered while pursuing his teenage prey through all manner of dark, dingy dreamscapes.

Another problem with the remake is the lack of charisma afforded to any of the kids, who act sleep-deprived well but fail to register any impression. It’s easy to overlook the fact that the original 1984 movie gave birth to a certain Johnny Depp.

As negative as this review sounds, however, it is worth noting that Bayer does, at the very least, entertain with the numerous set pieces… displaying a keen eye for some unsettling imagery and some tongue in cheek nods to the original.

The bath scene, in particular, is well recreated, while there’s fun to be had in some of the chases and bloody confrontations.

Given the modern appetite for recycling former classics, therefore, A Nightmare on Elm Street does at least keep you moderately entertained and alert.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 25, 2010