A Nightmare on Elm Street
dir Samuel Bayer
scr Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
prd Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller
with Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton, Lia Mortensen, Christian Stolte, Jennifer Robers, Parker Bagley
release US 30.Apr.10, 7.May.10
10/US New Line 1h35
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Women in jeopardy: Mara and Cassidy

haley gallner lutz
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
A Nightmare on Elm Street Surely the point of any remake is to find something new in the material that brings it to a new audience. But all these filmmakers have done is rehash the groundbreaking original into another lifeless, cliche-filled slog.

The children of Elm Street are suddenly having nightmares about a creepy man (Haley) with a burnt face and finger-knives on his gloves. And then they start to die violently in their sleep. Fighting to stay awake, the plucky Nancy (Mara) and her loyal pal Quentin (Gallner) decide to take on this mystery man, and along the way stumble onto a story from their own past that holds the key to the mystery. Not that their parents (Britton and Brown) will be any help.

Wes Craven's 1984 film is an enduring, franchise-spawning classic for one reason: it was a blast of fresh air at a time when teen horror movies had fallen into a rut. New ideas and a realistic cast threw us off-balance and genuinely scared us. Flash-forward to this cookie-cutter horror movie that can't muster a single moment of invention. And the cast looks as bored as the audience.

Meanwhile, the camerawork is slick and bland, but the direction flattens the tension, relying on a creepy soundtrack and grisly gore. And worst of all, the make-up leaves Haley struggling under a layer of blobby latex. And then there are the problems with the premise itself: a slimmed-down script that leaves out any motivation while creating a more upscale Elm Street on which rich kids live in McMansions with often absent parents, drive flashy cars and know their way around the prescription drug counter.

The back-stories feel like they were taken from The Hills, with lots of relational angst that comes from (and goes) nowhere. One scene with Gallner in his Speedos seems here only to convince us that the film isn't unpleasantly misogynistic. And the best tricks are stolen from earlier films--namely, blurring reality with dreams and dreams within dreams. But since the original film has been copied so many times in the past 25 years, even young viewers will have seen it all before.

cert 18 themes, language, strong violence 29.Apr.10

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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall