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‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ – an unimaginatively disappointing remake (IANS Movie Review)

June 5th, 2010 SindhToday

By Satyen K. Bordoloi

Film: “A Nightmare On Elm Street”; Cast: Rooney Mara, Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner; Director: Samuel Bayer; Rating: * and 1/2

Though remakes sound like an easy way to cash in on an already popular franchise, studios should not get into it in a hurry. It is easier to bungle up a classic in an attempt to go one up. The latest horror film “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, a remake of the same from 1984, is proof of that.

In a quiet little town somewhere in America, a burnt man, Freedy Kreuger (Jackie Earle Haley) with blades in his fingers, is stalking teenagers in their nightmares, and killing them one by one. When a couple of their friends die, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) decide to uncover the mystery behind their nightmares and end it once and for all. But how long can they prevent themselves from falling asleep?

It is given that with the advancement of CGI (Computer-generated imagery), this film would have better special effects than the original written and directed by Wes Craven that was also the debut film of Johnny Depp. However, those who have seen the older version would be embarrassed at how bad this film is. Those that have not seen the first will not have such a different opinion either.

The horror of the original was not just of a man who stalks innocent teenagers in their nightmares. It also lay in the disbelief of their parents hiding their own guilt of taking the law in their own hands. Every single such conflict between the kids and the parents have been subdued. Even the character of the cop-father, who wants to but does not believe his daughter in the original, has been removed.

The other major drawback is that Freedy Kreuger talks too much in this film. In the original, he barely talked, thereby heightening the horror. He was just a menacing terror, out to get you, seemingly without reason. The desire to reason, to round up the story, takes away from the horror of this film.

Debutant director Samuel Bayer, a music video veteran, and his band of writers fail to realise what made the original so chilling. It is not special effects, or an overdose of blood, or someone creeping behind you saying ‘boo’ that makes a good horror film.

The key element, even for a horror film, is the story and the chemistry and conflict between the actors, which is missing here.

The characterisation of the teenagers is an attempt to find the next broody teenager duo in the lines of the runaway hit “Twilight”. This make them that much more unbelievable.

If you are looking for some nice chills down your spine, buy or rent a copy of the original instead. That will give you much more value for money than this film could ever hope to do.

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