By Matt Brunson
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
DIRECTED BY Samuel Bayer
STARS Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara
Lamentably, it's probably not a stretch to say that any movie at least 15 years old that's vaguely remembered by the general public is now called a "classic" whenever it comes up in conversation or print (Howard the Duck excepted). But make no mistake: The original 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street is hardly a classic heck, it wasn't even the best entry in the never-ending Freddy Krueger franchise (that honor goes to 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors). But it did contain an interesting premise as well as a new horror icon in Robert Englund's demonic dream weaver, a boogeyman who could kill people as they snoozed.
This new Nightmare, in contrast, doesn't boast of a single thing it can call its own. The latest soulless horror remake from Michael Bay (who's already pillaged and plundered the likes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Amityville Horror and Friday the 13th by producing needless rehashes), this film is the ultimate example of making movies on autopilot, with everyone going through the paces merely to plop something on the screen, the sole goal being to siphon lots of money from impressionable moviegoers responding to the brand-name recognition. That's the name of the game, of course aside from Max Bialystock in The Producers, nobody sets out to make a flop but couldn't somebody have had a little fun with this project?
As it stands, the movie is dull more than anything, furthered hampered by unappealing teen protagonists (at least the original had a memorable heroine in Heather Langenkamp and a future star in Johnny Depp), clumsy direction by Samuel Bayer (there's nothing even remotely resembling a scare in this thing), a slack script full of risible moments (such as the clod who somehow falls asleep while swimming laps in the school pool!), cheesy CGI effects and, most disappointing of all, a letdown performance by the talented Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy (he possesses neither Englund's enervating energy nor his way with a quip).
The bottom line is that it isn't just Elm Street that's affected; you'll find a nightmare on any street that's housing a theater with the misfortune to be playing this monstrosity.