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Like nightmares? Like guys with sharp knives stalking you in your nightmares? Okay, that’s probably not that great of a proposition for most people, but for those that answered Yes (you sick bastards), Jackie Earle Haley as the new Freddy Krueger in the reboot of Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is your next best thing. Said reboot is now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and for Download from Warner Home Video.
Five teenage friends living on one street all dream of a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener’s glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within their dreams — where the rules are his and the only way out is to wake up. But when one among them dies, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake. Buried in their past is a debt that has just come due. To save themselves, they must plunge into the mind of the most twisted nightmare of all: Freddy Krueger. Jackie Earle Haley plays the legendary evildoer in this contemporary reimagining of the seminal horror classic.
For better or worse, Samuel Bayer’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” reboot never tries to hide the fact that it’s a movie about a guy who stalks and kills teens in their nightmares. The set-up is minimal, which is probably a wise move, given that just about anyone who is seeing this thing has either seen the original (or its upteenth sequel) and already knows the premise by now, so playing coy with the “What is he? Who is he?” questions would have been annoying.
As such, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” opens bloody and ends just as bloody, with Springfield teens Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her fellow high school students trying to figure out why a disfigured and vengeful Freddy is after them. As per franchise rules, the adults are of no help whatsoever, which is a shame because the film wastes the talents of the great Clancy Brown to what is essentially a throwaway cameo. Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights” has more screentime, but she’ also pretty superfluous.
The focus is on the teens, but the script by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer seem more concern with setting up the film’s many, many dream stalk sequences instead of, you know, actually introducing you to the kids. You never once get the feeling that these people actually exist in anything other than a Hollywood horror movie. Katie Cassidy spends every second of her screentime looking miserable and on the verge of tears, while Rooney Mara looks bored throughout. Then again, that could just be her acting style. Honestly, I don’t know; the characters are that poorly thought presented onscreen. Worst, they’re the kind of archtypes (the popular girl and boy, the outsiders, etc) that aren’t even allowed to embrace their archtypes, which is both silly and amusing.
As horror movies go, you’re probably not going to jump too much here. There are a couple of shock scare moments, but first-time director Samuel Bayer seems more interested in setting up the visual master shots instead of, you know, directing an effective stalk sequence. Jackie Earle Haley shows off his ugly mug pretty early on (again, the film doesn’t waste much time with foreplay), but he’s really not that scary. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” as a whole is not very scary, going for blood and style rather than effective atmosphere. I mean, they even manage to waste those creepy little girls, for Christ sake.
Will you have nightmares after watching “A Nightmare on Elm Street”? Only if you were hoping for a really, really good remake.
Blu-ray Combo Pack Review:
- Freddy Krueger Reborn: 14 mins. A lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette with the cast and crew talking about remaking the Wes Craven original. Everyone talks a good game about their remake, but I just don’t think their intentions translated into the execution. This remake is just not scary whatsoever.
- Maniacal Movie Mode: Watch the movie with mini-featurettes popping up in a PIP box along the way. Great if you’ve already seen the movie and want more dish, but don’t try it if this is your first time through.
- Deleted Scenes: Two deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The first deleted scene is an alternate opening set in a hospital, which sets the stage for the alternate ending, which also features a decidedly way more pedo-heavy scene between Nancy and Freddy, after which she goes all “I Spit on Your Grave” on his ass.