Pros: Well done remake of the original, and on par with it.
Cons: It did not really advance anything noticably.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Directed by Samuel Bayer
"Why are you screaming? I haven't even cut you yet!" Freddy Kruger.
The Springwood Diner doesn't look like a place you would expect great service, but when the waitress wanders past with the coffee, ignoring Dean's (Kellan Lutz) request for more, it crosses the line. Actually, it is Dean who has crossed the line, the line into dreaming, and in the gothic noir café, he encounters a figure in a striped sweater, with a taloned glove. And when Dean is brought back to the land of the waking, he bears the wound of that glove in his hand.
His waitress, classmate Nancy (Rooney Mara) is concerned, but not alarmed. Nor is friend Kris (Katie Cassidy) alarmed, not until Dean enters some sort of trance state, fighting an invisible opponent, and cutting his own throat.
Thus are the kids of Springwood introduced to their new Nightmare. It quickly becomes apparent that several of the kids on Elm Street are having similar dreams. Dean, Nancy, Kris, Kris's ex boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker) and Nancy's wannabe boyfriend Quentin (Kyle Gallner). What do they share in common besides an inability to dream without getting sliced to ribbons?
As they are picked off one by one, the survivors close in on the case, using clues from their dreams, and old fashioned snooping. They find them in the preschool they all attended, their class, all of whom are dead by mysterious circumstances within the last few days. Freddy was the gardener; Freddy seems to have been burned alive. Did the kids tell stories that prompted their parents to murder an innocent man? Or is the truth even darker? The survivors have to find out, and find out quick.
Sleep is the great renewer. It is the little death that brings about rebirth. But if you are cut off from sleep for too long, your body shuts down. It does everything it can to refresh and recharge you, including micro naps, where you dream with your eyes open. How do you fight something so fundamental to life? Coffee only goes so far. And that is the time line driving this plot. At 70 hours without sleep, the body starts taking drastic measures; waking REM states. Shortly after that, it lapses into a coma. So, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Isn't that the short definition of true horror? Or am I confusing that with politics?
This remake features a different Freddy; while Robert Englund's Freddy was over the top and somewhat cheesy; Jackie Earle Haley gives the murderous Morpheus a much stiffer affect, and is made much creepier there by. The original Freddie enjoyed the game as much as anything; the hunt was half the fun. This Freddie is much more focused on the terror, and the pain.
Advances in special effects only serve to move the story forward more seamlessly. The advances show particularly in some of the transitions to the dreaming world. This helps build the feeling of helplessness in the face of impending doom. The director also made good use of the "I'm going to scare you. I just won't tell you when." technique. This movie gives good Jump Moments.
The actors and actresses all turned in solid performances. At first I thought Thomas Dekker's Jesse to be a little wooden and stereotypical, but he redeemed himself with his later performance. Rooney Mara in particular had a difficult part, since Nancy is a quiet, subdued girl, but she managed to bring her a fey quality, hinted at first, then growing as her sleep deprivation grew, that kept the character from ever being boring.
Did this movie need to be made? I am not sure. I do not think it is really an improvement on the original. But at the same time, it is no worse either.
This is entered into Captain D's Good Movies Write Off. It, like Freddy, is Lean-N-Mean at 666 words.