Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton, Lia D. Mortensen, Julianna Damm, Christian Stolte
Written by: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer, based on characters created by Wes Craven
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language
Running Time: 95
Date: 04/27/2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Sleep Impact

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The idea behind this horror series is still extremely effective. It brings terror to the one place where we should be safe: sleep. This new reboot basically follows the same structure and uses some of the same scary imagery from Wes Craven's classic original, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

On Elm Street, a teen tries to stay awake, apparently afraid of a scary man with knives for fingers who threatens to kill him in his dreams. He eventually succumbs and dies, leading the rest of his friends to fear for their lives. After more grisly deaths, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner), try to stay awake long enough to find out who Freddie (Jackie Earle Haley) is and what he wants. Their search leads to a terrifying truth, and a mysterious past incident involving all their parents. But even armed with this knowledge, can they still defeat Freddie before their exhaustion catches up with them?

Directed by music video maker Samuel Bayer (Garbage's "Stupid Girl"), the new movie is competently made, and the characters and dialogue feel authentic enough. The digital special effects are more modern, but in a way, they're not as effective as the latex, smoke and mirrors of the original. There are also more modern-day explanations of sleep disorders and more drugs.

The new movie differs mainly in the character of Freddie. As portrayed by Oscar-nominated Haley, he's less funny and more twisted and tormented, especially in his flashback "origin" sequences. But the more overt suggestion of child molestation brings the movie right out of the "fun" realm; it's far more disturbing than entertaining. In all, the reboot feels fairly pointless, and will probably have the effect of sending viewers running back to the original.

New Line has released a two-disc set with a DVD and a digital copy on one side and a Blu-Ray on the other. It comes with "Maniacal Movie Mode," an interactive version of the movie itself, along with tons of little featurettes and additional scenes. Too bad they didn't put this much energy into the movie...

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