A Nightmare on Elm Street Review

The franchise that never sleeps.

The franchise that includes nine films and stretched over twenty-six years is back haunting our dreams. 2010 saw the release of a reimagining of Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) courtesy of relatively unknown director Samuel Bayer. The most notable films in the franchise are the two written and directed by Wes Craven; the aforementioned original and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).  The others, without Craven’s direction tend to be lacking, none more so than the embarrassingly poor Freddy vs. Jason (2003).

It’s been seven years since, a recently decapitated, Freddy Krueger broke Stanislavski’s fourth wall with a cheeky wink at the audience. Clearly feeling that the franchise needs to wake up and smell the coffee Samuel Bayer moves away from his esteemed history in music video direction, where he worked with Green Day, Metallica, Natalie Imbruglia and Marilyn Manson among many others, and makes his directorial debut with his updated version on the slasher horror classic.

The films plot is where the problems arise for this film; there isn’t anything new. The characters face the same nightmare as the original and they must stay awake in hope to survive. The only differences to the famed original are only available to the film maker because of advances in technology and prosthetics. The film combines clever transitions to the dream world and almost too real prosthetics which create all too real scars on Krueger’s face. By far the best scene in the film is presented via webcam stream.
The film hints at the issue of child molestation and plays on it with a fast paced narrative that changes direction and more importantly keeps the audience guessing.

Renowned for his performances of freakishly scary characters, Rorschach from Zach Snyder’s Watchmen (2009) and George Noyce in Shutter Island (2009), Jackie Earle Haley revives Robert Englund’s iconic character Freddy Krueger triumphantly. Unlike the other “Nightmare” films Bayer’s focuses on the back story and development of Krueger allowing Haley to hit home a stronger, more emotional performance. From the previous films we recognise Krueger as a tormentor, but in Bayer’s adaption he is as much a horrifying figure alive than dead. With Englund’s Krueger appearing in every “Nightmare” film thus far it was going to be tough for Haley to fit in to the film, but he does fit; like a (finger knifed) glove.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) has a surprisingly large cast, but most of which are minor parts that are fine performances; nothing more. The shining star of these minor roles is played by Kellan Lutz, of Twilight Saga fame, whose performance as a sleep deprived man is brilliant and a great start to the film.

Not much is different to the original, but it’s very good to see a remake that manages to stay honest to its source that includes fine acting from all, but none more so than Jackie Earle Haley.  With rumours of a sequel it looks like this franchise, along with its character, will never die: 6/10.

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