Michael Bay. As a director he is known for his fondness for explosions and Megan Fox. As a producer he is responsible for the ˜reimagining’ of classic horror films via his Platinum Dunes stable. After critically unsuccessful attempts at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, former music video director, Samuel Bayer, has been hired to take a stab at Wes Craven’s iconic creation, Freddy Krueger, in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Horror remakes are commonplace these days, but prove to be very tricky at the same time. While some attempts are admirable like The Hills Have Eyes, the ability to bring something fresh and original to a well known character is something many filmmakers struggle to do, leaving others to be a crude rehash intent on simply making money.
Wes Craven is something of a horror master. His films including A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream are often described as ˜genre defining’, but unlike previous remakes of his films, he has no involvement here. Any twists, black humour or satire he would normally bring are void, and what we are left with is a flat, pathetic attempt at bringing back a screen legend culminating in a contender for worst film of the year.
The story vaguely follows that of the original. A man wearing a red stripey top and a glove with knives for fingers haunts the dreams of local teens. But when they die in their dreams, they die in reality.
Let’s be honest here. No one could possibly say they expected a mind-blowing rework, but the least you could hope for is a little fun, an easy scare, perhaps the sick thrill of a good kill, or even a cheeky breast. You get none of those things.
As soon as our teenagers arrive on screen, you can’t wait for them to die. The one dimensional creations are nothing but an irritant as they slowly (very slowly) attempt to uncover why this man stalks their dreams. Instantly dislikeable, they offer no depth and the clunky, predictable dialogue serves as another reason to hate them even more. The only thing you will share with any of these dull cretins is trying to stay awake during the strung-out ‘investigation’.
Things become so dull that when one shoots himself with adrenaline, you hope in vain that we may see him charging around, chasing Freddy with a Statham-in-Crank style boner. Sadly, nothing as entertaining as that occurs. As they finally meet their demise, the deaths are instantly forgettable. Actors like Johnny Depp started their career in the original franchise, but for the sake of the film industry let’s hope the same doesn’t apply for the wooden planks on show here.
The back-story of Krueger serves up a vaguely interesting plot point. To be fair it is slightly modified from 1984’s original, but it is very limited and wrapped up so quickly within five minutes of screen time it renders itself relatively pointless.
While Robert Englund portrayed Freddy as a crazed psychopath with a streak of black humour, Jackie Earle Haley plays it right down the middle as a by the book killer. Strangely, he is pushed deep into the background, making only the briefest of appearances until the final climax where his voice is finally heard uttering paedophilic innuendo for a few moments. He doesn’t look scary, in fact probably what you will be thinking is what the face actually looks like. Top suggestion is that of a rabbit suffering from alopecia.
While visually Bayer performs admirably, it is however simply a copy of Craven’s original look; Freddy’s boiler room dungeon remains the same, while they even steal the ‘bath scene’. So much for a reimagining, right? It’s a shame the writers didn’t decide to steal a few other of Craven’s trademarks as the frankly embarrassing script makes you pray you too were in the boiler room.
After watching this, the real nightmare is considering what Bay and his cronies will be tarnishing next.