Friday, April 30, 2010

Hollywood Product: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 8:44 PM

click to enlarge Freddy Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley) takes his grudge seriously in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street in theaters April 30.
  • Freddy Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley) takes his grudge seriously in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street in theaters April 30.

GENRE: Supernatural horror thriller.

THE PITCH: Here’s a contemporary A re-imagining of Wes Craven’s original horror flick. After the tragic death of a classmate, several kids in the sleepy town of Springwood, Ohio discover they’re collectively being haunted by a fashion-challenged, disfigured man wielding a leather glove fitted with razor-sharp knives named “Freddy” Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley).  As they desperately try to avoid a nightmarish demise from Kruger, more clues about their past and the connection to their dream time menace are slowly revealed. Realizing there’s no way to stop him in any conventional sense, the remaining teens, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) make one last ditch effort to stop him.

MONEY SHOTS: Kris (Katie Cassidy) is hunted and caught by Freddy in her dream. In reality she begins to shake and scream while her terrified boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker) looks on in horror, unable to wake her. The shaking fits continue until Kris floats straight up from the bed – Exorcist style, and is flung violently from wall to ceiling to wall several times. Suddenly she stops midair and deep, gaping slashes appear across her chest – blood spews like rain when her body falls lifeless back onto the bed. This scene mirrors the original movie’s scene but with more finesse and a lot more blood.

BEST LINES: When Freddy finally catches Jesse, in reality he’s gutted in a jail cell. As they switch back to the dreamscape, Jesse is bound upside down against the boiler pipes looking terrified. Freddy leans in close and mutters, “Did you know after the heart stops beating your brain stays alive for seven more minutes … I’ve got six more minutes to play.”

BODY COUNT: Freddy kills discriminately so he only slays people he’s attached to - that being the kids and parents linked to the daycare where he was previously employed.  That said, he racks up only four gruesome kills.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Wes Craven’s original version had a fair amount of blood and this remake surprisingly has a bit less. Technology makes the spills and sprays more realistic than its predecessor, but don’t expect a bloody catharsis.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Nancy uses her Motorola Razor phone as an alarm clock to wake up. Kris runs around the city searching for a way to escape her nightmares in her VW Beetle convertible. Quentin refuses to fall asleep so he keeps himself away on prescription drugs and lots of Red Bull.

STRANGER DANGER: Freddy the chargrilled child molester explains his longtime plot to draw Nancy to him after he finally catches her while she sleeps. As Nancy struggles to resist him - writhing and pleading with him, Freddy paraphrases R. Kelly, “Your mouth is saying no, but your body says yes.”

WHAT'S DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINAL: First off, they're in Springwood, Ohio, not sunny California. Fred Kruger isn't a psycho child killer but instead your text book pedophile who just happens to have a penchant for sharp objects. Nancy's dad, Lt. Thompson (John Saxon) is replaced by Quentin's father, Principal Smith (Clancy Brown) who really does very little to even warrant being there. Remember all those sheep that were milling around here and there in the dream sequences from the original, they've been booted but during Dean Russel's (Kellan Lutz) dream, he spots a couple of carcasses and hooves boiling in pots on  stoves. There's a few new twists throughout the film but revealing them are definite spoilers.

BOTTOM LINE: At first glance Nightmare teeters on becoming an overly dramatic re-imagining of the original story: you know, your typical teen off-the-wall slasher flick of the '80s. Its at that point you realize that something is terribly wrong – when did Freddy get so serious? If you strip away all the tongue-and-cheek puns and ridiculous nightmare moments from the original story, you’re not left with much material to gleen on to.

Haley’s version of the iconic serial killer is more calculating and methodical which I’m sure for director Samuel Bayer justifies Kruger’s need to exact his unique form of revenge, but it gets lost in translation due to the creepy and often dry personality from Haley. So instead of seeing a bad-ass serial killer who just can’t kick the habit even after death, you instead get a creepy, charred pedophile who just wants to claim Nancy and shut up the children and the parents that caused his demise.

Fans of the franchise will be happy to see most of the methods and scenes Kruger slays his victims are still in tact – with just a few updated improvements thanks only to up-to-date digital editing. However, those same true Nightmare lovers will ultimately be disappointed in the new, not-quite-improved version of Kruger and will be begging for the predictable, been there-done that ending.

Aside from a few jumpy moments to keep you squirming in your theater seat, this remake has little to offer. If you’re searching for a genuine scare, you’re definitely looking on the wrong street.

A Nightmare on Elm Street. 2 Stars. Directed by Samuel Bayer. Stars Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara. Rated R. Opens Fri., April 30 in area theaters.

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