Roll on another horror remake… Platinum Dunes, the company behind the reboots of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, and Friday the 13th turn their attentions to another modern horror classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, which gets its UK cinema release this week.
Given that Leatherface, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers have already been resurrected for a new generation of horror fans, it was inevitable that Wes Craven’s fedora-wearing killer, Freddy Krueger, would be given a modern makeover. So was it worth the wait?
Just like the original, a group of suburban teenagers are stalked by a shadowy figure in their dreams. As long as they stay awake, they can protect one another, but when they sleep, there is no escape from the disfigured killer. But why is Freddy haunting them, and why can’t they remember each other from their childhood?
Pulling on Krueger’s famed red and green striped sweater is Jackie Earle Haley. The former child-star has re-invented himself as one of Hollywood’s best character actors, with acclaimed roles in films like Little Children and Watchmen. And he’s the perfect choice to take over from Robert Englund, who made Freddy a cultural icon.
Haley certainly looks the part, but he also brings sympathy to the role (especially in the flashback scenes in which we learn how Krueger went from simple gardener to fearsome killer). My only concern here was the terrible synching which distracted me from Hayley’s malevolent vocal performance and witty one-liners.
Taking the reins of the remake is Samuel Bayer. Being responsible for some the best music videos over the last two decades (from Nirvana to Green Day), Bayer shows he has an eye for dark spaces and fast-paced editing, and favours loving close-ups of the fit young actors destined to become fodder for Krueger’s lust for revenge.
And there are loads of familiar faces here, including Kyle Gallner (the moody teen from The Haunting in Connecticut), Supernatural‘s Katie Cassidy, Twilight’s Kellan Lutz and Thomas Dekker (looking older than he did in Sarah Conner).
Between the fast-paced shocks and scares, including some sterling nods to the original and its sequels, the new look includes a darker storyline concerning Krueger’s child killer – as our heroes Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Gallner) get closer to the horrible truth that their parents murdered Krueger because of the sick acts he committed on them while in pre-school.
To me, this new Nightmare on Elm Street is just money for old rope and doesn’t really do anything but pay homage to the original. And while die-hard fans will either love it or hate it, the US box-office receipts are proving there’s still mega-bucks to be made in horror remakes. So, like it or not Freddy’s back!
How did it measure up to you? Let us know what you think. And while we are on the subject of resurrecting horror icons, who is left? Dr Phibes maybe?
On General Release