REVIEW: Can You Stay Awake Through Nightmare on Elm Street?
The key moment in A Nightmare on Elm Street occurs around the 40-minute mark, not long after Freddy Krueger's third victim meets his demise. It's really something, too: A gaggle of lights illuminate cell phone screens around you. Seats groan and bodies rise, silhouettes stalking toward the bathroom. The film's little-known interactive component has kicked in: A whole audience battles its urge to fall asleep.
That's about the most you can say about the remake of Wes Craven's 1984 classic -- "classic," I guess, compared to this. The imperative to invent is obsolete in this one; you can almost picture some archetypal studio boss chomping on a cigar, telling rookie feature director Samuel Bayer, "Burned guy, razor glove, deep voice... 'Dja see the first one?" Then handing Bayer off to some fork-tongued assistant who would show him the way to producer Michael Bay's bungalow. Or maybe Bay himself is the cigar chomper in this equation, and Bayer is just hurled out on his ass on the Warners lot with a deadline and a duffle bag full of $30 million. Is that being generous? These guys don't even have the budget to license Google or Yahoo! as a search engine. (GigaBlast? Say whaaaa?) This bad boy is all Dell computers and half-obscured Red Bull cans and appalling "rahhhrrrr!!!" CGI and sparklers taped to the end of prop knives. You really can see the money on screen.
Not to make this a big "Your Nightmare's on welfare" joke or anything. Really, your Nightmare is on life support. Have you seen the first one? Teenagers? Bound by the same nightmare? Where Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund then, Jackie Earle Haley now) avenges his, um, history of child molestation with a murder spree? Forget it. Bottom line is to stay awake lest the disfigured, sweatered, fedora-ed killer track you down and terminate you in your nightmare. Die in your sleep, die in real life. That sort of thing.
Not to be facile about it, either. But I can't exaggerate how little Bayer and Co. even tried in their remake. A quasi-atmospheric intro features Kellan Lutz (spoiler alert) introducing steak knife to throat and downtrodden young waitress Nancy (Rooney Mara) flirting with Joaquin Phoenix in a Joy Division T-shirt (Kyle Gallner). They're half of a cluster of teens who went to the same preschool where handyman Krueger abused them all, and now, somehow, they're all having the same dream that plunges them into one of several fashionably lighted chambers where he can finish the job he started years earlier.
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