- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by David Medsker
ome like to vilify Michael Bay and his plundering of horror movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s for raping their childhood. That’s a bit melodramatic, since all of the movies he’s remade could stand to be improved in one way or another. The problem is, not one of Bay’s remakes has come within a whiff of its original source material. Is Bay conflicted about making his version too good, thereby rendering the original obsolete? Or is this nothing more to him than a cinematic Happy Meal, where he nets a quick profit with a big opening weekend?
Whatever his reasons may be – I’d personally bet on the latter – he’s coming up short, and his latest endeavor, “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” is no exception. The problem this time is the movie’s tone: it’s deathly serious, and while Wes Craven’s original wasn’t a campy romp, there was a playfulness in both the direction and the character development that this version sorely lacks.
The movie begins in a diner, where Dean (Kellan Lutz) refuses to fall asleep. He tells his friend Kris (Katie Cassidy) about a series of recurring dreams involving a disfigured man with a knife-tipped glove. Katie leaves his side just long enough for Dean to fall asleep and appear to kill himself. At his funeral, Kris speaks with ex-boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker) and the withdrawn Nancy (Rooney Mara), and they soon realize that they’ve all been having similar dreams. When Kris discovers that she and Dean went to school together as children, something that Nancy’s mother (Connie Britton) conspicuously denies, Nancy does some sleuthing after Kris’ death and discovers that their dream stalker is Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a day care gardener that was killed by Nancy, Kris and Jesse’s parents when they suspected him of molesting their children.
There are no scary moments here – only ‘boo’ shots and jarring noises. Those familiar with the original, of course, know that it contains several scary moments that don’t involve quick cuts and jarring noises. Many of those moments are referenced here, but were defanged in transition. (The bathtub scene, in particular, is positively neutered.) The characters suffer a similar fate; Nancy, in fact, might be the blandest, dullest heroine in horror movie history. How much of that is actress Rooney Mara’s fault is unclear, since none of the kids stands out. Katie Cassidy comes the closest, but she’s killed before she gets a chance to rise above the din. Jackie Earle Haley’s presence here is curious, too. His post-Academy Award nomination choices have all been intriguing for one reason or another, so one wonders why he’d risk getting typecast a second time.
In six months’ time, no one will remember this movie. When it’s shuffled off to DVD, most of the copies will end up in a landfill. Whether Michael Bay intends to do such damage to the legacies of the movies he chooses to remake, the damage is done just the same. Enough, please.
Two-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
It may not look like much, but the Blu-ray release of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” actually has a pretty solid collection of bonus material. There’s a picture-in-picture video track (“WB Maniacal Movie Mode”) filled with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that you can watch alongside the movie, a 14-minute featurette called “Freddy Krueger Reborn” that discusses the casting of Jackie Earle Hayley and the updated look of Freddy, and eight Focus Points about topics ranging from the iconic glove, sweater and hat, to make-up and practical effects. Rounding out the two-disc set is a trio of deleted scenes (including an alternate opening and ending that are both inferior to the ones that appeared in the theatrical cut), as well as a DVD and digital copy of the film.