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  Nightmare on Elm Street, A Won't Someone Think Of The Children?
Year: 2010
Director: Samuel Bayer
Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton, Lia D. Mortensen, Julianna Damm, Christian Stolte
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dean (Kellan Lutz) is sitting alone in a diner, asking the waitress to bring him more coffee, but she ignores him and goes back to the kitchens, leading him to follow her somewhat indignantly. He needs coffee because he wants to stay awake, and he wants to stay awake because he has been suffering nightmares recently and has drawn his own conclusions why. Yet as he investigates the kitchens, he notices the disgusting pieces of carcasses littering the stoves and worktops, and twigs that he is now in the dream world - just the place to bump into a hideously scarred man with blades for fingernails...

As with franchises before, producer Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes company got their hands on another horror series, and proved there was life in Freddy Krueger yet, or rather death, more appropriately. Many of these chillers had found that as the third millennium came around, the easiest way to make money out of horror was to look back to the previous millennium, and pretty much remake anything they could, after all there was the recognisable brand, and a built in audience of both kids, their parents, and the generation in between who were still loyal to the genre, and more importantly for these production houses, still loyal to the characters.

Thus Robert Englund's services were no longer required, and child star turned character actor Jackie Earle Haley was hired to pull on the glove and don the stripey sweater, exhibiting the way that the remake was yanking its efforts in two directions. Did it want to be a reimagining, or was it going to play safe and stick to the same dramatic beats and shocker set pieces that the original had? This Elm Street never made up its mind, leading to an end result that was neither fresh nor a glowing tribute; what was new was that this time, Krueger was not a child killer, indeed he had not killed any of them, but now he was a child molester, which raised questions about exactly how entertaining this was supposed to be.

He still had his wisecracks, but these were not funny - perhaps child molesters have a terrible sense of humour? - and he still visited his victims in dreams, but the added element of sexual abuse did nothing for the fear factor and a lot to make this less disturbing, and a lot more glum and unnecessary. Another problem was that the kids work out what is going on very slowly, and at one point believe Krueger to be an innocent victim murdered for crimes he did not commit, despite all evidence to the contrary in the way he speaks to them in dreamland, not to mention the hard to get away from fact that he is blatantly responsible for bumping off the main teens' friends. It could be that by refashioning the original, the screenwriters were forced to be too faithful.

If they had taken the basics and spiralled off in some inspired new direction, as Wes Craven had with New Nightmare, then we might have had something worth championing, but as it was this Elm Street was your average remake, competent enough, containing the usual amount of boo! scares, but sticking too close to what had become some pretty tired conventions and retaining none of the novelty. The original series had a sense of malevolent glee in its set-ups, and as ridiculous as they could get, those nightmares it depicted were nothing if not memorable, yet here the only laughs you could garner would be when, say, one character falls asleep while swimming - that is to say, what laughs there were would be unintentional. For those who found the Craven version too dated, here was a CGI variation, cynically engineered towards getting your money in the most mechanical methods possible, slick and professional, but giving rise to more shrugs than shivers. Music by Steve Jablonsky.

[The Blu-ray has no audio commentary, oddly, but it does have about a billion featurettes to tell you all you ever needed to know about this remake. If the picture looks murky, then it's supposed to.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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