In the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy and her friends are plagued by strange dreams. A man with a razorblade glove and a fedora is stalking them in their sleep. His name is Fred Krueger. As the dreams grow more intense, the man inside them becomes more powerful. He begins killing Nancy’s friends in their dreams. The problematic thing is that if Fred kills you in your dreams, you die for real.
This is another remake that no one asked for. The original Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher classic that can’t really be improved upon. There is no fatal flaw in the original that warrants the existence of a remake. A Nightmare on Elm Street was rebooted with one thing in mind: Profit. While money is what makes the world go round, the desire for it isn’t an essential ingredient for crafting a quality film. This redux is unimaginative. It is poorly cast. And it fails to diversify from the original.
I am not anti-remake. I have really enjoyed a lot of different remakes. I appreciated the Dawn of the Dead reboot. I loved the Evil Dead redux. The Toolbox Murders reimagining was great. And I really dug the Hills Have Eyes remake. But those re-imaginings separate themselves from the original and bring something new and different to the table. Reboots like The Omen and Psycho were frame for frame recreations of great films that didn’t need to be recreated. A Nightmare on Elm Street falls into the same category as those two ill fated reboots. Music video director Samuel Bayer fails to differentiate his film from the original with any degree of success. His movie too closely parallels the events that take place in the Wes Craven original. And the only thing Bayer’s remake does to set itself apart is to provide more backstory on the Fred Krueger character.
While more backstory isn’t always a bad thing, it must be done in a subtle enough fashion so as not to beat the viewer over the head with lengthy flashbacks and awkward expository dialogue. The backstory in this reboot is anything but subtle and there is too much of it. Keeping Fred Krueger a little bit mysterious is one of the best things about the original film. It doesn’t overwhelm the viewer with too much information and allows him or her to draw their own conclusions.
Other than the addition of cumbersome character history, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake does little else to differentiate itself from the original picture. The deaths are all reminiscent of the original film to the point where they aren’t even interesting to watch.
The casting decisions this film made remain a hot button issue with horror fans. Replacing Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger is a decision that can never be lived down. Jackie Earl Hayley looks like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz in this film. And he has none of the charisma that makes Fred Krueger special. Also, Rooney Mara (Side Effects) is miscast as Nancy. She plays the role unenthusiastically. Her lack of interest in the performance is obvious to the audience. She is missing the tenacity that Heather Langenkamp brought to the part. She has since publicly come out and proclaimed that she didn’t want the role (then why did she take it?). None of the supporting characters are interesting or the slightest bit memorable. What makes the original film so noteworthy is that it features a dynamic and interesting cast of characters that the audience can relate to. There is none of that going on here.
If you’ve avoided this remake thus far, you aren’t missing anything. It is unimaginative, the characters are two-dimensional, and the director never makes the film his own.
Director(s): Samuel Bayer
Writer(s): Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
Stars: Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy
Studio/ Production Co: New Line, Platinum Dunes
Budget: $35 Million
Length: 94 Minutes