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Movie Review: ‘Nightmare’ does not supply scares

Michael Phillips
Staff Writer

The long awaited remake of Wes Craven’s horror film “Nightmare on Elm Street” was released to theatres around the country last Friday April 30.

The original was released in 1984 and was a groundbreaking and creative film that changed the face of the horror genre. However the remake is not as creative as Wes Craven’s original, but it manages to mimic a few of its key points and makes a decent attempt at revamping the franchise.

The original was written and directed by Wes Craven who is known for films like “Scream” and the original “The Hills Have Eyes.” The remake is directed by Samuel Bayer who is known solely for his work in music videos such as pop singers Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The film opens up at a diner in Springwood, the infamous town in the Elm Street franchise. In minutes the audience is thrown into the revamped world of Freddy Krueger and shown how sleeping can kill you.

One of the biggest changes in Samuel Bayer’s version of the film is the replacement of the original Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund, who has been the face of the franchise for almost three decades.

Englund’s replacement is Jackie Earle Haley, better known for his role as Rorschach in the film “Watchmen.” Haley proves to be a capable actor who attempts, but ultimately does not fill the shoes of Englund.

The new Krueger has dropped his sense of humor, and given up on striking fear into the hearts of his victims. Instead he is now vengeful and speaks in harsh whispers, similar to Clint Eastwood or Rorschach. Yet Haley adds his own eeriness to the role of Krueger making him more sadistic and human like.

Thirty minutes into the film you are left asking yourself, when is Krueger going to get scary? The main problem with this remake is the lack of scares, especially from a franchise whose intent was to get into the dreams of the audience and cause nightmares. The new Krueger no longer stalks his victims, but instead finishes them off so quickly that one would think it was a chore instead of a pleasure.

Bayer forgets to amaze and shock the audience, even though he has the potential to.

What is to be admired about the film though, is the set design and the artistic depth. Bayer uses the sets to disorient the audience and make them feel as if they are one of the sleep deprived teenagers being stalked by Krueger.

Unlike the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” whose budget was a little over a million dollars, Bayer’s budget for the film was $35 million. Visually, Bayer doesn’t disappoint.

He creates a visually appeasing film, with a solid plot that acts as an almost direct remake to Cravens original, with a few minor changes.

Even with the brilliant visual presentation it’s impossible to forgive Bayer for forgetting the crucial component of all horror films, the fear.

The film feels to have traded in suspense for gore, something we’ve seen one too many times.

The death scenes in Bayer’s film are similar to that of the original film just more enhanced, Bayer and screenwriters Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer play it safe and kill any chance for creative death scenes.

Instead they deliver buckets of fake blood and deaths of characters who the audiences feel no attachment for.

While Bayer’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” is a good attempt compared to previous horror movie remakes like “Friday the 13th,” it still misses its goal, which is to be scary.

Bayer gives the audience a reason to be scared in brief intervals towards the ending of the film but it just isn’t enough.
At the end of watching “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the audience applauded the film, as if thanking Krueger and welcoming him back to the world of horror. Let’s just hope next time he takes his job a little less seriously, especially since a sequel to the film has already been green lit.

If you’re a fan of the franchise I recommend you see Bayer’s attempt, because overall it is a decent film, but if you’re looking for something mind numbing and frightening you will be disappointed.

Michael Phillips can be reached at michael.phillips2@laverne.edu.

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