It would be rather bold of me to ask producers to leave dormant horror series’ alone, but at the same time, a reboot of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street was inevitable. We live in a horrid timeline where anything that has a vague sense of popularity, items that have survived the memories of children from the 90s, will be adapted into scant rehashes of the original source material. It happened to Friday the 13th, it happened to Halloween, and, of course, it happened to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Holding a candle to the Craven classic is no small task, so pooling the correct talent for such a dangerous task is crucial.
Samuel Bayer, then, the director of this 2010 adaptation, is most certainly not up to the task. A dull experience that saps what little optimism I had for this limp-handed, worthless re-hash of the classic horror franchise. Rooney Mara stars as Nancy Holbrook in what is more or less a faithful adaptation of the first film. A fresh coat of paint sounds rather unappealing, especially when this new style and fashion is arguably worse than the original series. Darker settings, a focus on jump scares and poor special effects make for some unavoidable, embarrassingly bland moments. The legacy of the Krueger character doesn’t survive the leap to modern filmmaking antics, not least because of the crummy direction from Bayer, and the weak, one-dimensional leading characters, who feel glanced over rather than fully utilised as they were in the original.
Solely because of how long he held the role and how well he turned it into a performance tailor-made to his style, it’s rather difficult to get through this one without Robert Englund donning that horrifying clawed glove. Instead, we’re left with Jackie Earle Haley, who has some extremely big boots to film. Obviously, he doesn’t manage that, but his performance is completely acceptable. A noticeable shift in tone and step-down from the heights of earlier entries into the series, but given the tiresome script and rather loose feel to the movie, on the whole, he does rather well. I’ve no qualms with Haley whatsoever, but a forgettable role amongst awful acting is still a rather poor showing, even if he does adapt the ridiculously useless script to the best of his abilities.
Irredeemable on every level, with cheap scares around every corner and a lack of dedication to the world-building needed to bring Freddy Krueger back to the big screen. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a dreary remake of Craven’s original, but without the heart, horror or humour that the original series provided frequently and consistently.