Sunday, May 2, 2010

"A Nightmare On Elm Street" (2010)

What keeps this remake of Wes Craven's 1984 "A Nightmare on Elm Street" from being just another wholly unnecessary famous horror film franchise reboot, like the recreation of Jason, Michael Myers or Leatherface, is that this one is based off a premise that has endlessly clever possibilities due to the killer, Freddy Kruger, being in the teen victims' dreams. Whatever happens to them in their dream by the hands of Freddy happens to them in reality. If they get sliced in half, there's no waking up from the nightmare, and it's goodnight forever. This is a fun premise because it opens doors for visual creativity and, also, who hasn't had a scary dream? This isn't just some guy running around with blades for fingers in the real world. You're in his world, a dreamlike horror show where Freddy rules.

It also helps that the new Freddy is played by a truly talented and fascinating actor, Jackie Earle Haley who did superb work in "Little Children" and "Watchmen." Here he uses the same low, gruff-sounding voice as he did for Rorschach but to an entirely different effect, this time with sly touch of maniacal humor. With a disgusting-looking melted face sporting a worn fedora and a red and black striped sweater, he scrapes his finger blades down ominous halls and swipes them back and forth against each other like a nervous twitch. Even without the makeup, Haley is a strange-looking figure with a gaping mouth and sunken eyes. Whenever Freddy shows up, it's a relief, a familiar face among the young teen actors. Better yet that, just as he's about to utilize his razor hand, he lays out one-liners such as "Let me take a stab at it!" that may not be unintentionally funny, but Haley makes them work.

The movie starts out bad. But once the two less-talented young actors are disposed of leaving the two main teen actors, Rooney Mara as Nancy and Kyle Gallner as Quentin who each do surprisingly effective work, that's when things get interesting. And when the undertones of Freddy being a pedophile come into focus, that's when things get interesting. Sitting in culture references of laptops, ear buds, teenage high school angst and Red Bull and Ritalin, that, too, is when things get interesting. Yeah, the girl hides in the closet. Yeah, the other girl goes outside calling for her dog in the dark. But once you get past the occasional horror cliché that slips in, this "Nightmare" reboot from first-time director Samuel Bayer has some passable entertainment to offer.

There are some nice touches of special effects to give the bloody dream sequences some cool imagery. Nancy wades through a hallway of blood one moment and Freddy's face comes out of a bedroom wall the next. The height of the terror, which this movie supplies in a satisfactory dose, comes from not knowing the difference between dream and reality. They continually blur together more and more making the latter, and better, half of the movie an eerie dreamscape.

And, of course, there's no way to have an ending because how can you kill what's ultimately a dream? There's no ending it. And, like the eight other "A Nightmare on Elm Street" movies before it, this one doesn't end either.

1 comment:

  1. nice review! i agree i think Jackie Earle Haley is the perfect choice for Freddy. i plan to see this real soon.