Director: Samuel Bayer
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Clancy Brown
Freddy’s back! Well, he’s been ‘re-booted’ like so many other horror icons recently. Much like last year’s ‘Friday the 13th’, this 2010 reimagining of Wes Craven’s horror classic seeks to inject new energy into the long-running franchise.
If you have partaken of any of the previous films then you will more than likely know the story here. A group of teens living in the town of Springwood have begun to experience the same dreams, each involving a man with horrible burns and a deadly bladed glove. When it becomes apparent that these dreams have horrible repercussions in the real world, the teens seek to unravel the mystery regarding the psychotic Freddy Krueger.
While many people would sigh at the thought of yet another remake, I remained cautiously optimistic upon the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger. Die-hards may scoff at the replacement of Robert Englund, but Haley brings a ferocity to the character that has never been seen before. Fresh off his excellent and memorable performance as masked vigilante Rorschach in ‘Watchmen’, Haley continues to impress with a disturbingly eerie take on the gloved killer. His booming voice and dark dialogue finally takes Krueger out of his comedic state (no offense to Robert Englund intended) and into something that feels much more real. Krueger is a force to be reckoned with, and his fleshed out back-story is very welcome in this version. It makes him so much more of a character than the robotic killing machines we’ve seen in so many other slasher flicks.
The teens are competent in carrying the story of the film. Rooney Mara plays Nancy, not the most popular girl at school. While I understand that Nancy was supposed to be a loner of sorts, Mara takes a strangely robotic approach that makes it difficult for the audience to worry about her situation. Thomas Dekker, most prominently seen on the unfortunately short-lived ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’, is suitably intense in his search for justice against these recurring nightmares. It was refreshing to see the cast in a horror film refusing to follow the conventions set out by countless others before them.
Director Samuel Bayer makes his feature film debut with ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. Bayer has a massive library of music videos under his belt, and the fact that he had not directed a feature previously doesn’t show in the movie. The film has a great visual style and Bayer’s decision to give the audience a clear look at their antagonist was a bold choice. The characters are literally forced to look fear in the face, and the film definitely does not take the route of ‘what you don’t see is scarier than what you do see’. Haley’s make-up gives Freddy a much more chilling visage, mirroring much more closely the wounds of an actual burn victim. Also noteworthy are some incredible transitions between the real world and Freddy’s dream world. These were quite inventive and helped to show off the movie’s innovative visual style.
The main problem with the film comes from a certain sense of familiarity. While enjoyable for fans of the genre or franchise, it still seems too derivative in certain ways. Hearing the characters slowly come to realisations that most people will be extremely familiar with since the 1984 original can be tedious. Still, those who know nothing of the series will undoubtedly be curious as to what Krueger’s motives are.
If you have never cared for the ‘Nightmare’ films, this new version is hardly going to sway your opinion. For those who enjoy a good fright (this film has some very loud and effective scares!) or who are interested in seeing Freddy Krueger for a new generation, this nightmare of a movie comes highly recommended.
Director: Samuel Bayer