Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara. Directed by Samuel Bayer. 95 Minutes. 18A
Samuel Bayer’s reinvention of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise is essentially just a modernized (when the kids go to sleep, so does their MacBook!) version of the classic you’re-not-even-safe-while-you’re-dreaming story. So much so, it seems like he penned the flick in his happily undisturbed sleep.
The only real difference is between this Elm St. and the old one is the actors (no Johnny Depps here), the time period and a minor, yet totally creepy, change in Freddy’s back-story (Bayer’s Krueger didn’t murder kids, he just, you know, sexually abused them and made them paint with blood). The problem is, Bayer forgets to include the best parts of the original series, forgoing quality writing and innovative storytelling for special effects, buckets of corn syrup and creepy backdrops (see: the poorly lit diner, the grungy basement crawl space, the winding empty hallway). He probably thought he was meeting horror fanatics and budding gore whores halfway with his cut-and-dry style, but his lack of imagination just leaves you feeling half-baked.
The one thing he got right was casting Jackie Earle Haley. The dude is superbly creepy as the new Krueger, especially considering he’s got monster-sized shoes to fill. He is basically his character in Little Children, with third-degree burn, a Value Village sweater and a fedora. Believe it or not, the only thing he’s missing is a sense of humour.
What made Robert Englund’s Freddy so legendary – and separated him from the silent killers (Jason, Michael Myers) of classic slasher cinema – was the fact that he knew how to pick out a prime pun, turning what could have been a straight-up creepfest into a campy horror girl’s wet dream. Sure, the diss-and-dissect game wore thin after the fifth sequel, but it was the reason you watched Freddy Vs. Jason. Earle Haley’s one-liners, on the other razor-sharp hand however, are deadly serious. And not in a good way. B-
EXTRAS: “Freddy Reborn” featurette,
BLU-RAY EXTRAS: alternate ending, alternate opening, deleted scenes
*This review was originally posted May 10, 2010*