A Nightmare on Elm Street
When I was a kid, we had rubber duckies … kids today!

Theatrical Release Date: 04/20/2010
Director: Samuel Bayer
Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton

Two weeks ago, for my “Death at a Funeral (2010)” review, I played around and recycled as much of the original film’s 2007 review as possible, in a response to Hollywood relying on remakes rather than original content. Well, they’ve done it again and audiences are now being presented with yet another horror film franchise reboot with “A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)”.

As such, I figured this time around I’d take a stab at reusing portions of my review for the “Friday the 13th (2009)” franchise reboot – which, incidentally was done by the same production company, Platinum Dunes (and I fully admit upfront that, for the most part, they’ve done a better job of respecting the material than I had feared). So here goes (bluish text denotes reused material):

Let’s look at what director Samuel Bayer, screenwriters Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer, and producer Michael Bay have provided for audiences.

On the positive side:

— The back story involving Freddy Krueger’s misdeeds gets a bit of an update, going the pre-school molestation route rather than plain old child murdering. It adds a layer of creepy to an already fearsome villain and it’s handled decently, allowing the acting chops of Jackie Earle Haley to come out and play, even though most of his dialogue is composed of simple one liners.

Freddy doesn’t just use his famous finger-blade laden glove to slice and dice intellectually challenged teens. Franchise aficionados know that he also plays with them against objects (pipes, blackboards, etc.) to create awful sounds to further scare his victims and I’m happy to see that this element wasn’t ignored.

I can’t make fun of Bayer’s direction like I really want to, considering he made the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video for Nirvana – which is somehow lauded for its use of a janitor rocking out with his mop. While there’s debate on the look given to Freddy this time around (they were going for a more realistic interpretation of a burn victim), and many of the shots are simply updates to the original film, they look pretty good. I can see the music video influence and the polished look of many scenes is a credit to Bayer’s eye.

Freddy is still a merciless killing machine, dispatching the witless teens with a mix of efficiency and sadistic glee.

— The ending (and I won’t spoil it) is consistent, though slightly different, from the original. Why ruin a good thing? Thankfully, they stuck to the formula here.

On the negative side:

— There is just enough gore to make sure this is not another watered down PG-13 teen horror flick however, there is ZERO nudity going on. Look, one of the absolute staples of any good horror flick is some gratuitous nudity and there ain’t none of that here. Even if the lead actress has it in her contract to remain fully clothed or to cut away at just the right moments, that’s why there are other characters in the film. Not showing a little more skin is sort of like ordering a five course dinner and not getting dessert.

While I do give them credit for some decent deaths (especially the first two), there simply weren’t enough kills. I can appreciate that the screenwriters wanted to focus on a select few kids but others are mentioned and not shown because they happened prior to the specific time period of the main characters. (Without spoiling it, one of those deaths is sort of shown but at least give us the flashbacks). With so few people really dying on-screen, it made the film’s 95 minute runtime feel a bit longer.

So let’s see. That’s 5 positive comments and 2 negative ones. Using non-Euclidean geometry, and adjusting for the wind, that means that “A Nightmare on Elm Street” gets a 3 out of 5. I was expecting a bit of a train wreck and instead witnessed an ordinary traffic collision.

The bottom line is that this will please a generation of young adults who missed out on the entire original franchise but will leave those of us who know and love the original a little cold. It’s a better reboot than “Friday the 13th (2009)” but is that really saying anything significant?