REVIEW: Can You Stay Awake Through Nightmare on Elm Street?

Movieline Score: 4

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 The imperative to invent is obsolete in this one; you can almost picture some archetypal studio boss chomping on a cigar, telling rookie feature director Samuel Bayer, "Burned guy, razor glove,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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  • NP says:

    I'm still going to see it, but... Blergh. What a squandered opportunity.
    "these actors all look like they’re pushing 30"
    I kept thinking the same thing watching the trailer: "This blond girl is in high school? She looks like she's about 35." Maybe it's all the makeup to make them look like cracked out insomniacs?

  • carg0 says:

    another half-assed attempt to cash in on a horror classic; another failure... what a shock.
    so now they've basically ruined any chance of keeping either of these franchises (Friday the 13th & Nightmare) relevant to a new generation of moviegoers. good job there, hollywood.

  • jml_360 says:

    what do you expect from a movie that already has numerous sequels? i actually didn't think it was that bad...if you didn't set your expectations TOO high. that gigablast thing actually exists...i looked it up...they're touting themselves as a 'green' search engine.....maybe that's why the movie used it(?). I don't know. probably just a marketing ploy....

  • Sabrina says:

    Well i saw the movie on opening night, and it honestly wasnt bad. I actually really liked it. but thats just my opinion. And dont be worried about the highschool kids looking "30" cause they really dont, they just arnt very photo-genic. but then again in the beggining i thought that they might of been college kids.

  • lucas says:

    the original is before my time and I never got around to seeing it. but i liked this version for the most part. I wish they had toyed with the early deaths a bit more, mixed things up, showed Nancy and the boy a bit earlier. give it less of an 'anthology' feel.
    some of the seasons with the parents were rather over the top. especially with how they avoided saying the truth bluntly. rather annoying.
    the whole micro naps and coma thing gave it some logic, and the real feeling dreams was appropriately creepy.
    on the acting side the only that really bugged me was the guy, mr Joy division. I liked him more or less, but in early scenes he had this weird expression like he was about to cry. just a bad move on his and the directors part. just over the top way too much even for a cheesy horror flick
    but i did love the use of 'dream'.

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  • Joe Elevator says:

    So it was that bad eh. I haven't seen the movie yet but was planning to complete the set of my DVD collection for all the nightmares. but then again after reading this review I think I will shy away from procuring this on DVD or BD for that matter.

  • James says:

    Man why do they even bother with remakes. They usually only rubs me the wrong way when they try.
    I can for the love of god think of one remake that I think has been better. Bit this is what happens when money is the game.

  • Jenny says:

    A 4 I truly hope movie line is using a scale to 10 because this was absolute crap and def not worth 4/5
    I think this was huge disappointment when it came to this remake....

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