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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010
Movie Review


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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2010 MOVIE POSTERA Nightmare on Elm Street, 2010
Movie Reviews

Directed by Samuel Bayer

Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
Review by Joshua Starnes


SYNOPSIS:

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A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.

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REVIEW:

Despite what common wisdom holds, sequels and remakes are not horribly cynical attempts at shameless moneymaking that hold their audiences in, at best, disregard and at worst utter contempt. Rather they're opportunities for writers and filmmakers to find new and inventive approaches to their material, bringing style and quality to a genre or franchise that the mainstream has written off.

It can happen. When Wes Craven returned to his signature creation in 1994 he used it as an opportunity to examine the psychic affects of horror art on its creators. The fact that we don't get that very often is no reason to give up hope. This is why I refuse to be disappointed that Platinum Dunes' remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is the same as all their other remakes: a carbon copy with lots of flash but no soul.

The plot is near identical to the original. Springwood's teenagers have begun acting strangely, afraid of sleeping because their dreams have begun to be infested with a strange man named Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) who wears a glove made of knives. The dreams are also terrifying the teens with lost memories of their childhood and a horrible secret in the basement of the local preschool, a secret they have discover as they start to die off one by one.

The plot is near identical to the original. Springwood's teenagers have begun acting strangely, afraid of sleeping because their dreams have begun to be infested with a strange man named Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) who wears a glove made of knives. The dreams are also terrifying the teens with lost memories of their childhood and a horrible secret in the basement of the local preschool, a secret they have discover as they start to die off one by one.

Jackie Earle Haley ("Watchmen") does make a fine replacement for Robert Englund in the signature role. He doesn't have Englund's insane clown physicality, but that actually works in this Freddy's favor, pushing him more out of sight, forcing first-time director Samuel Bayer to focus more on mood and Haley to garner chills with his voice. It's often quite affecting in the first half, though eventually they all fall prey to the desire to over do it, applying menacing dialogue and dark humor that actually detracts from what they want. The less aware you are of Freddy the more effective he is.

Producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller have maintained a policy since the beginning of the current remake trend of using these films as a way to offer first films for new directors, which is undoubtedly a good thing. On the other hand, you also always end up getting a new director's first film which tends to be uneven at best, with lots of attention paid to individual moments but not always to how they fit together.

New "Nightmare" suffers from that in droves, particularly in regards to how to stop Freddy, an idea that was more than a little preposterous in the first version and is doubly so in the latest as it comes somewhat out of nowhere in the last act after heroine Nancy (Rooney Mara) pulls a piece of his sweater into the real world. Perhaps if they'd introduced the element early in the film and let the kids grapple with the significance of that rather than focus on whether they were all as a group suffering from repressed memories it would have been more believable.

Instead, the urge to squeeze in as many dream sequences as possible (leading healthy teenagers who were fine for 30 minutes until it was their turn to be scared to spontaneously develop narcolepsy) trumps everything, leaving just enough space to squeeze in the exposition needed to move the plot forward.

For fans of the "Nightmare" franchise, and slasher films in general, the new version does exactly what you want and not much more. Haley makes for a good Freddy and as with all sequels, there is still opportunity available for real exploration of the concept even if this "Nightmare" is content to just go through the motions. Better luck next time.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010


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