No. No. No. No. No. No. No! *Sigh* While the reimagining of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” didn’t kill me, it definitely put me to sleep. When it comes down to it, the cool premise of being hunted in our dreams with real and deadly consequences was ruined by a bad screenplay, stupid dialogue, directing best fit for a music video (in fact the director Samuel Bayer has an extensive music video directorial résumé), and acting that was less than stellar. Though, at least Jackie Earle Haley reprised his role as Rorschach quite well. This squeaks by with two stars, but barely. I gave this the two stars I did only because a few of the dream transitions were cool, and at the very end Freddy had a funny line or two. Other than that, this movie is so incomprehensibly disappointing and boring I wanted to cry.
Oh my gentle Christ was the screenplay bad. Structurally, this thing is an absolute mess. It makes me weep how…just plain oddly this is written. Clearly its biggest problem is the fact that we really never know for sure who the hell the central character(s) are. We’re introduced to a character who is terrorized for a moment or two, and then killed. Then we’re whisked away to the life of another character who we follow for a bit, and then see her killed. While we meet two people who are more than likely the main characters early on, we don’t settle into their world until forty-five minutes into the movie. Forty-five minutes of a ninety-minute movie. What? At this point, we have know idea who these people are, and don’t care about them at all. At least, that’s how I felt.
The biggest problem that stuck out for me about the story itself was how absurd it was. Now, we’re dealing the supernatural, I understand that. That’s not where my problem lies. Supernatural is fine. It’s the elements within the story we’re suppose to believe are real that drove me crazy. Most people are familiar with Freddy Krueger. He stalks and kills people in their dreams. Simple enough, I think. In this movie, Freddy is back to kill the children of the parents who killed him some years earlier. Why did the town’s parents kill Krueger? Unproven molestation allegations reported by the children. Fine, you’ve got my attention up to this point. But, the story takes place when all of these kids are in their late teens. They don’t know the origin of these dreams they’re having or the man in the red and black sweater who haunts them.
Am I supposed to believe they forgot they were molested? Sure everyone deals with trauma in their own way, but where this device goes horribly wrong is Freddy supposedly messed around with an entire pre-school class of children. An entire class of children who some how grew up, grew apart, and forgot each other’s existence. How would every single child forget such a horrible thing done to him/her? Awfully convenient, I think. Also, why the hell is Freddy coming back now? There is a slight nudge in the direction that the haunting has been going on for a long time but it’s never pursued, and there’s no follow up to show the nightmares have been long occurring. Why would Freddy wait until the kids were adults? If there’s a reason, fine, but show me! Kids are a lot easier to kill than adults. And isn’t Krueger supposed to be a child molester? I think he’d prefer child victims, not adults.
I don’t have a lot to say about the dialogue other than it is really stupid. The majority of it doesn’t serve the purpose dialogue is supposed to serve: moving the plot forward or revealing character. Some of it does that, but the rest just feels forced and corny. It is almost as if half way through one of the writers decided, “you know, we’re not giving Freddy enough wacky one-liners”. After this revelation the writers give Freddy something completely not clever at all to say about every three minutes. A final note, Rooney Mara, who plays a girl named Nancy, is either a naturally bad actress, or her performance is just more proof that the script and dialogue sucked because every moment she’s on screen is excruciating.
Since I’ve moved on to the acting, Rooney Mara had not a shred of life behind her eyes the whole time she was on screen. Not only did I not believe her in her role, but I didn’t give a damn what happened to her because she was so annoyingly bad. Jackie Earle Haley is all kinds of wrong for this role. He uses literally the same voice for Krueger as he did for Rorschach in “Watchmen”. It’s as if he was cast simply for that reason. “Hey we’ll give you a fat paycheck if you do the Rorschach voice again,” “Hell yeah, I’m there”. No one else is even worth mentioning because no one else had so much as a pulse. The only character who might have been good dies six minutes after we meet him.
Director Sam Bayer makes his big debut with this pile. He comes from a long history in the music video business. It’s my understanding he’s won many accolades in that medium but cousin, the technique just don’t translate to the silver screen. “…Elm Street” feels as if it is a ninety-minute grunge music video. It’s loaded with basements and boiler rooms and dark places, all that’s missing is a three-piece band from Seattle. I’d like to say Bayer’s film career is over but unfortunately he’s got another film already loaded into the barrel.
So, at the end of the day, and coincidentally the end of the film, Freddy has a few good lines, and there are a few cool transitions from waking life to nightmare life. I thought the classroom transition where everyone turned to dust was cool, and when Nancy was in the grocery store she would slip back-and-forth between wake and sleep, and each time she did the scenery would change. I thought that was a nice artistic choice. Other than that, this movie is aggravating, not scary, and so completely boring. I nearly fell asleep, no exaggeration. Now, I’m in no way saying I could do better because I couldn’t, but Hollywood sure can, and with their billions of dollars I’m surprised to see schlock such as this being made still.