A Nightmare on Elm Street



The genius of Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street was its ability to seamlessly transition between dreams and reality.  Was Susie awake, or was she dreaming and about to encounter the psychopathic Freddy Krueger?  This kind of cinematic sleight of hand was ideal for Hollywood; who better to create nightmares than the “Dream Factory”?

A Nightmare on Elm Street, current edition, gets some of this stuff right with its darkly surrealistic sets, but not often enough.  Instead, Samuel Bayer’s remake relies on two tired, tired horror-movie clichés:  the sudden, deafening roar/bang/shout/scream on the soundtrack, and/or someone abruptly popping up out of a dark corner of the screen.

I used to work with a fellow who would jump through the ceiling if you snuck up behind him and did one little thing – softly clear your throat.  I suspect that it would not have startled him if someone were to instead sneak up and shout BOO!  The mild throat-clearing told his subconscious two things:  Someone is right behind me, and he or she might have been standing there for a long time.  Very unsettling.  The makers of movies like Nightmare would do well to learn that subtlety can be much more terrifying than, say, a screeching cat.

Still, if you are 15 years old and have not seen a gazillion horror flicks, like I have, this Nightmare does what it promises to do:  provide cheap thrills.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I have noticed one trend in recent horror movies.  Back in the good old days (1970s-’90s), it wasn’t really a horror film unless there was at least one gratuitous nude scene.  Nightmare does have a bathtub scene, yet there is no actual nudity.  I don’t understand this.  If your film is already a “guilty pleasure,” why hold back?       Grade:  C




Director:  Samuel Bayer  Cast:  Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Lia D. Mortensen  Release:  2010


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