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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (BLU-RAY)
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Samuel Bayer

Starring:
Rooney Mara
Thomas Dekker
Kaylen Lutz
Jackie Earle Hayley

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Members of the small but affluent community of Springwood think Freddy Krueger, a gardener at a preschool, molested their children. The parents take the law into their own hands, dispatching Freddy by burning him to death. Years later, the children he supposedly molested are now teenagers. All are experiencing dreams in which a horribly-burned man in a fedora and torn sweater haunts them. When one of their friends appears to kill himself, the group soon discovers that Freddy may not be dead after all.

Is it good movie?

I hate doing these kind of reviews for remakes. It's not the nostalgia factor or the love/disdain of the original, it's the fact that no matter what I say, there will be people who are pissed off at what my take will be. Some remakes I enjoyed watching (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, DAWN OF THE DEAD), while others I was okay with (FRIDAY THE 13TH). Now here's the remake for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, directed by Samuel 'I did music videos before this' Bayer. I was aware of the production issues prior to seeing this one, along with the fact that many people were on the fence with Robert Englund being replaced by Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy, along with the feeling that the original just didn't need to be remade. So with that out of the way, what did I think of this latest remake?

First off, I have to say that Bayer's experience as a music video director actually paid off in some respects. The eye-candy in the film was good eatins, particularly in the diner scene, the various boiler room scenes and even the introductory credits. The colours and little details just made things oh so fun. The various speed-ups and slow motion dealies were also a nice touch. I also liked the little visual things that Bayer did, such as how the shift in lens length caused the shelves in the bookstore to distort when Quentin was dreaming, for instance. Obviously, the production values in the remake dwarf the original's.

The other great thing about the remake is, of course, Freddy. Instead of making Freddy the wisecracker that seeped into the subsequent sequels (and made the character less threatening, in my opinion), we get a mean-spirited Freddy that makes a few quips but is largely still threatening. This is all thanks to Jackie Earle Hayley taking over from Robert Englund. Don't get me wrong, Englund made the character his own and carved out the standard, but Hayley serves up a nice tribute to Englund that's hard to ignore. Coupled with the decision to have Freddy actually look like a burn victim this time around rather than a fantastical version was another nice touch. It always sort of bugged me how Freddy never looked like an actual burn victim.

However, I'm tiptoeing around the issue of the problems this film faces. Try as I might, I couldn't give a rat's ass about the 'teens' in this film. The wooden acting (Rooney Mara during the diner scene comes to mind) made for a serious lack of endearment to the characters. Also, the clichéd character types surfaced here, which turned me off even more. Add to that a lack of genuiness (how many teens do you know drive Beetles?), a lack of reality (how many high school students have laptops, and how many high school teachers wear suits and ties?) and some rather annoying plotholes (you can't tell me that none of the kids remember the preschool or each other attending the preschool) made this film a farce. Even the most iconic scenes that were in the original and appeared in the remake felt more like poorly-executed parodies compared to the original. The shot of Freddy pushing his way through Nancy's bedroom wall, for instance, was overkill in the remake, compared to the subtleness of the original.

Compounding things was the genuine lack of effort put into the film's scares and gore. Hell, when Jesse is in jail and confronted in Freddy's boiler room, you can even see the green-tinged makeup on Freddy where chunks of his face are cut out by CG. It's stuff like this, coupled with the ho-hum nature of the film's 40 minutes (including giving Freddy's entire appearance away way too early) and the above-mentioned problems that had me wondering if this remake was on the same level as FREDDY'S DEAD. To be honest, NIGHTMARE 2010 is a lot better than FREDDY'S DEAD, but can't hold a lighter, let alone a candle, to the original. This is a standard ho-hum teen slasher that will be largely forgotten, and rightfully so. See it for curiosity's sake, but have the original handy to see how it's really done.

Oh, and Samuel Bayer needs to stick to doing music videos. Just because Marcus Nispel did well with TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FRIDAY THE 13TH doesn't mean you're automatically good.

Video / Audio

Video: Freddy never looked better. This 1080p 2.39:1 widescreen transfer looks damn nice. Echoing how Sam Bayer's background helped to make things pop off the screen, the colours and texture in this film are beautiful. Colours obviously become muted during the dream sequences, but still carry over the richness. There are a few spots of softness in the image, and detail isn't quite as strong as to allow for seeing skin details (although that might be the layers of makeup applied to the MTV 'teens', but I doubt it). While not reference quality, this is still a strong transfer.

Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds just as good as the picture looks. The surrounds are used frequently and effectively to immerse, particularly during rain and in the boiler room. Touches such as grinding metal, laughing children and creaking wood are given some love, as well. Dialogue comes through clean and clear, without having to battle over the Steve Jablonsky's great score or the environmental effects. Very nice.

The Extras

Is it just me, or should New Line not let big-name studios handle the supplements? After getting stiffed on the Blu-Ray for FRIDAY THE 13TH (thanks, Paramount), the ANOES remake gets stiffed by Warner Bros., even though at first glance, things appear to be the opposite.

First up is Additional Footage, the first of which includes an alternate opening. Honestly this opening would've made for a more interesting start to the film rather than having the diner right off the bat. I understand why it was cut, but even having this play prior to the introductory credits would've been a nice touch. After that is a scene involving Nancy walking down a street that suddenly morphs into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's dumb and throw-away, so it's good that it was chopped. The last is an alternate ending, which to be honest, was best left out, anyways. I understand the whole 'full-circle' thing involving Freddy, but it turns into Rooney Mara taking the worst swings of a baseball bat I have ever seen. You're supposed to be mad, not inept!

Freddy Krueger Reborn at first starts off promising, but ends up becoming more of a frustrating fluff piece that doesn't get to the point. While director Sam Bayer, producer John Rickard writer Eric Heisserer try to drum up interest by explaining Freddy's lack of mythology and motivation (which is an outright lie), and praise Robert Englund multiple times for his performance as Freddy in the past, it really doesn't show the 'glanced at but never actually shown' concept art for the new makeup. Also, the cast (save for Jackie Earle Hayley) come off as being clueless about the franchise. I wanted to reach into my TV and strangle Thomas Dekker for talking about Freddy coming after you with 'his knives'.

Maniacal Movie Mode is the big picture-in-picture piece. This one consists of interviews and quick peeks at behind-the-scenes footage, along with a little conceptual art and some effects tests while the film plays. Much of the cast and crew are featured here, with Jackie Earle Haley stealing the show with his thoughts about the role and how he interpreted being Freddy. Clips also delve into costume design, makeup effects and into the cinematography. While there's some great stuff here, it's not entirely accurate regarding the screen-specificness, plus there are a lot of gaps in information in relation to the screen, making you wonder if individual featurettes would've made more sense.

Lastly, Focus Points are branching off featurettes that occur about seven times during Maniacal Movie Mode. These generally expand upon what's being discussed at that point. Of note is the outright lie about how little CGI is used in the remake (they must have confused that with the original) and the discussion of Freddy's outfit. 'The Victims' section just confirms my suspicions that these 'kids' haven't even seen any of the original films, and that I want to smack the everloving crap out of them for their hypocrisy.

The second disc is the combo DVD/digital copy. The film is also BD Live-enabled (whoop-de-do). Topping things off is a slipcover with some lenticular animation.

So what's missing? Well, considering that I'm still waiting on a fantastic feature-length documentary equal to the one New Line did for the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake all those years back, yes. Aside from a lack of a commentary, there are some glaring omissions in the deleted footage, which is hinted at in the various featurettes and trailer for the film (the party and where Freddy unzips his way out of another character's head, for instance). Speaking of which, there's no trace of the teaser or the film's trailer. Given that there's tons of room left on this disc (it only comes out to 25 GB), why New Line/Warner decided to f*ck with viewers like this proves that even they don't care about this film.

Last Call

Another cash grab from the remake train, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET looks polished and features a creepy take on Freddy, but is bogged down by 'teens', lame acting and a genuine lack of care, if this lackluster Blu-Ray is any indication. I'm open to seeing more of Freddy, but New Line had better wake themselves up and deliver.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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