A Nightmare on Elm Street remake reeks of a rushed cash-grab

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Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, and Kyle Gallner. Rated 18A. Now playing


Watch the trailer for A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I remember seeing the original A Nightmare on Elm Street when it was released in 1984 and thinking it was pretty decent as far as slasher flicks go. Its FX–heavy death scenes were a lot more inventive than the stalk ’n’ stab routine that defined most ’80s body-count films, and the wicked humour of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was a welcome respite from the bland brutality of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. With his half-melted face, ratty red-and-green sweater, stylin’ fedora, and blade-embedded glove, Freddy cut quite the figure. And it helped that Englund could actually act.

But the attraction started to wane after the third or fourth Nightmare outing, and by the time Freddy vs. Jason limped into theatres in 2003 the series had long since lost its charm. Sadly, this lacklustre remake does nothing to reinvigorate the franchise.

A bunch more glum suburban high-schoolers are hunted in their sleep by a vengeful Krueger, who’s seeking payback for the vigilante actions of their parents when the teens were in preschool. As the new Freddy, Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from Watchmen) fails to conjure the capering creepiness of Englund. Music-video and commercial director Samuel Bayer—best known for helming Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—brings little gusto to the game, seemingly content to offer rote reenactments of the original’s most memorable scenes—like the one where Krueger’s glove rises out of the frothy bathtub between the splayed legs of a snoozing girl.

This Elm Street reeks of a rushed cash-grab, as even the most reliable of clichéd shocks—like a body suddenly appearing at a window—fail to register on the fright-o-meter. They really should have hired someone with more imagination and a burning love of horror to tackle this tribute to Nightmare-maker Wes Craven. Where’s Rob Zombie when you need him?

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