© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

A Nightmare on Elm Street
U.S.A. 2010

Opening 20 May 2010

Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Writing credits: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer, Wes Craven
Principal actors: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker

Nancy, Kris, Quentin, Jesse and Dean are teenagers and friends, all reside on Elm Street and have the same bad dream. At first they ignore the significance of sharing a nightmare, until first Dean, then Kris, and finally Jesse are murdered in their sleep, slashed to death in a pool of blood by the bogey man of their dreams. Nancy is determined to solve the mystery and incorporates Quentin’s help, although both of them can barely function, since for days fear has kept them from nodding off. Nancy’s mother and Quentin’s father reluctantly explain that all of the young people involved attended kindergarten together. At that time the parents took the law into their own hands and murdered the gardener, Freddie Kruger, who was suspected of child molestation. The reincarnated Freddie wears a red and green striped sweater and a felt hat. His face is horribly scared by fire, and he has knives on his hand instead of fingers. Nancy and Quentin are keen to catch Freddie once and for all, a tall order considering that they have to transport him out of a dream.

As it stands, this horror story is scary enough. I jumped out of my seat twice and felt bone tired along with the actors who were afraid to close their eyes for fear of renewed horror. The photography is good; the plot goes forward logically. There is a problem with repetition; after all, Freddie (Jackie Earle Haley) can only brandish his knives so many times before we yawn and think, “Freddie, go scrape some sparks on someone else’s basement wall.”

The problem with this new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street by Samuel Bayer is that it is a remake of Wes Craven’s unforgettable original which appeared in 1984 and which went on to have seven (!) sequels. It’s impossible to see the new version without comparing it to the original. The new version closely follows the original storyline; however, the teenagers are more sophisticated, older, and freer. Cell phones and computers are evident; these kids drive themselves in their own cars. By the same token, today’s young internet-savvy viewers have a shorter concentration span, are not easily fooled by a bit of makeup and are much more demanding. They will decide whether this, too, will have sequels, as the open ending implies. Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kyle Gallner, and Kellan Lutz are all fine new faces on screen, as was a 21-year-old Johnny Depp in the original. Perhaps we will remember this film as the springboard for a new star. (Becky Tan)

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