A Nightmare on Elm Street Review

This weekend I saw the re-make of Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher-horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Directed by Samuel Bayer, the 2010 re-make tells the story of a group of teenagers whose dreams are terrorized by Freddy Krueger — a man who wields a glove with four blades. However, the kids soon realize that if Freddy kills you in a dream, you actually die. As Freddy picks the group of friends off one by one, the remaining few try to figure out what they have in common, and why Freddy is targeting them.

The film wastes no time jumping into bloody violence, but lacks the suspense necessary to really get a good scare out of you. Instead of building tension, Bayer just throws Krueger at you expectantly — until you just start to expect it. If you’ve seen the trailer with the kid in the diner then you’ve already seen the entire opening of the movie and the most suspenseful sequence.

Unfortunately, Freddy isn’t quite the killer that makes you squirm in your seat. His dialogue is full of one-liners that only succeed at subtracting from his scare factor. The serial killer could have benefited from keeping the talking to a minimum, as his chattiness is more of a distraction than intimidation. And there’s only so many times he can drag his blades across a pipe before the sparkles feel trite. Also, the fact that he’s played by Jackie Earle Haley meant that I kept expecting him to break into a Rorschach monologue about how he saw a dog carcass in the alley this morning.

However, what I found the most disappointing about Nightmare wasn’t the flat dialogue or the “surprise! You thought Freddy was dead but he’s not really” ending — I expect these tropes from horror movies — it was the depiction of the modern American teenager.

I’ll admit, it’s been a few years since I was in high school or could call myself a teenager (and let’s be honest, the same could be said about the actors who play this film’s high-schoolers), but the portrayal of today’s 16 to 18-year-old was laughable. Most notably is Nancy. The movie tries to convince us that Nancy is an outsider — even she admits that she just “doesn’t fit in” — but I had a hard time figuring out why. Played by the beautiful and incredibly skinny Rooney Mara, Nancy acts like your typical teenager. So what makes her so different? Oh right, she has a job at a local diner and enjoys drawing instead of “going out.” Because a beautiful young woman who is responsible and creative must be a loner…

Nevertheless, I didn’t go into Nightmare with great expectations, so I couldn’t be that disappointed. There are a couple of killing blows that are full of bloody awesomeness, and a few dream sequences that actually look like some creative thought was put into them. But overall, I’d say skip this movie unless you’re a big fan of the Nightmare franchise, or if you’re in the mood for a mindless slasher flick.


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Filed under film review, horror

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