'A Nightmare on Elm Street' - More Reviews

Reviews for A Nightmare on Elm Street. Spoilers ahead. Starring Kellan Lutz, movie releases today nationwide.

From Time magazine
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy's Not Dead Yet

Hunky, drowsy, brain-scrambled Dean (Kellan Lutz) walks, or sleepwalks, through the Springwood, Ohio, diner. And finds Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), the razor-fingered dream stalker. Back in his booth, Dean seems to be struggling with himself, then takes a knife and slits his own throat, deep and deadly. The title card A Nightmare on Elm Street snaps on screen, and the audience at last night's Times Square press screening erupts in a gleeful cheer.

Or maybe that was from the Dolby, because much of the post-screening chatter — at least what I overheard the New York bloggerati say about this remake of the 1984 Wes Craven half-classic — was enthusiastic only in its contempt. They'd behaved themselves during the screening, but on the street afterward they could have been Tea Partiers at an Obama Is a Commie rally. "How can you not do the face-suck?" one of the Cravenists asked with a rhetorical sneer. "Did they think they were remaking West Side Story?", another contumeled. Their tone of dismissal echoed this morning throughout the geekosphere.

I liked the new Nightmare, but I know that any new version of a revered text — a favorite old book, play or movie — invites invidious comparison. In this case, your fondness for the remake may be in inverse proportion not just to the extent of your admiration for the Craven original but also to how recently you saw it. I last watched Heather Lagencamp battle Robert Englund's Freddy (with baby-faced Johnny Depp an early victim) about a decade ago. It was fine, and it had the advantage of being the first.

The new one, directed by vide-auteur Samuel Bayer and written by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, is what I'd call a fine copy. Yes, it offers a higher frequency of Freddy interventions. And it's as scrupulous as Kick-Ass in applying today's technology to the old story: a boy video blogs his Freddy fears, before his head is smashed into the screen; as an exhausted girl works at her PC, it flashes "Computer entering sleep mode." But this is not a "reimagining" — that would be what David Cronenberg did in his 1986 masterpiece The Fly, based on the so-so 1959 film. The new Nightmare is a straight, shiny, honorable remake.

Bayer replays dozens of the elements Craven established. (If you are one of the few people who never saw the first Nightmare, you should probably STOP READING NOW.) Of course this film retains the notion of a fiend from the past who torments a group of small-town teens as they sleep. But also: the Psycho strategy of investing the audience's interest in one character, only to kill her off and switch focus to another woman; the frisson of Freddy's form seeming to lean out of a girl's bedroom wallpaper; his possession of the girl's body that summons the levitating powers of Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Fred Astaire dancing on walls and ceilings in Royal Wedding; the visitations of dead schoolkids; one girl's burning her arm to say awake; and the final grim twist of a parent finally feeling Freddy's wrath.

Bayer, who directed such music videos as Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," brings a craftsman's loving attention to every aspect of the movie, from the opening credits (which appear in a child's script, like an S.O.S. jotted desperately on a sidewalk, and where the sign "Badham Pre-School" turns into "Bad School") to flicked references to old scare movies like Cronenberg's Shivers (a somnolent teen in a bathtub, her legs asprawl, with Freddy's claw rising briefly, teasingly). Bayer isn't Orson Welles, exactly, but he has plenty of assurance and the props to back it up.

I also enjoyed watching the young cast, even when they had to enact horror-film tropes like the guy who leaves his girl alone near the climax. The five actors in the teen leads might look a little mature for 18-year-olds (they range from 22 to 25), but the characters have surely been aged and withered by their psychic torment; and they have the dead-seriousness of U.S. soldiers on their fifth and perhaps terminal tour of Iraq. Serious is also the word for Haley — unlike Englund, who devolved in the five or six sequels into a campy lounge act. He's pure predation, and responsible for the film's definitive blecccchhh moment: when he approaches Nancy (Rooney Mara ), whose back he had scarred when she was in pre-school, and growls, "You're my little Nancy," then licks her face.

Bayer also conducts, a bit more cunningly than Craven did, a symphony of cinematic sadism on the viewer's nerves. Most horror films have downtime between the gross-out scenes, a space for audiences to grab their wits and prepare for the next shock. Often a movie lets you when to relax. With The Exorcist, for example, we soon learned that we were safe as long as the camera stayed out of poor Regan's room. Sea-monster movies like Jaws taught us we were safe if we stayed out of the water (except for last year's craptacular Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, where a really Great White leaps from the water to attack and devour a 747 cruising at 30,000 feet).

Nightmare at first seems to offer periods of downtime, since we're led to believe that a kid is in jeopardy only when she or he falls asleep. Ah, but whose nightmare is it, anyway? Whose frantic brain are we inside? After some adjustments, we figure it out, and realize with a shiver that Freddy's in there too: the weirdo in the red-and-green striped sweater and the burn-victim scowl. He'd be among the creepiest villains ever — if it weren't for the kids' parents.

The adults, you'll recall, are the ones who, 15 years earlier, turned Freddy from an eccentric pre-school janitor, a toxic influence on the children he doted on, to the maleficent undead creature who haunts their sleep. (The new movie does have a more sensible explanation of Freddy's crime; we'll just say it coincides with the crime Haley's character was convicted of committing in his Oscar-nominated role in Little Children a few years back.) Now teenagers, the children still don't know what happened; so when Freddy comes back to play inside their skulls, they are both terrified and baffled.

The story's socio-political message is blunt and potent. Your parents, it says, are sedaters, trying to control you with their silence, evasion and lies. These guardians of the official adult culture, the soothing, fraudulent status quo, want you to be ignorant both of the man who can harm you and of the knowledge that might save you. When the kids beg for help, the grownups advise them to "Try and get some sleep." Only Freddy tells them the truth — "You really shouldn't fall asleep" — just before he slaughters them.

But since Freddy is also the ultimate horror image of an abusive father-figure, the plot of the original Nightmare and this borderline-gripping remake plays like a emergency session in psychoanalysis. Interpret your dreams, come to grips with the past, confront your demons and you shall be free. Unless audiences make the movie a hit, and a sequel appears in a year or so — and the whole cycle of torture and revenge recommences like a dreadful dream from which you can't awake.

From nydailynews.com
The studio optimist who wrote the official press notes for "A Nightmare on Elm Street" describes Freddy Krueger's latest appearance as "a reinvention of the seminal 1984 horror classic." In reality, it's more like a bludgeoning.

The fan anxiety over Jackie Earle Haley replacing Robert Englund turns out to be warranted: Haley's a fine actor, but he was far scarier in the suburban drama "Little Children." And Englund's unpredictable presence is definitely missed.

Don't blame Haley, though. Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer's screenplay goes in the wrong direction entirely, dropping Freddy's sick sense of humor while turning him into a generic bogeyman.

Novice director Samuel Bayer returns to the initial Elm Street crime scene, where high-school senior Nancy (Rooney Mara) is being stalked by Freddy in her dreams. Other students (including "Twilight's" Kellan Lutz) are also tortured when they fall asleep, though no one knows why.

With help from her mom (Connie Britton) and boyfriend (Kyle Gallner), Nancy learns that Freddy was once a pedophile preying on preschoolers. She and her friends were his final victims, before their enraged parents set him on fire. Years later, he's returned for revenge.

When he kills someone in her sleep, she dies in reality, so Nancy's only hope is to stay awake. But all the Red Bull in the world won't keep her and her friends up forever.

While the filmmakers plundered Wes Craven's original for their plot, they neglected to retain other essential elements, like a genuine sense of dread. Bayer doesn't even know how to exploit the potential terror of nightmares.

And he cares even less about the characters. Haley's reptilian menace is lost under all that makeup, along with Freddy's personality. The rest of the cast is encouraged to behave in equally bland fashion, so talented actors like Gallner and Britton are completely wasted.

If all you're looking for are cheap scares, you'll find a few minor jolts and a decent - though not interesting or unusual - amount of gore. But be warned: You may need your own case of Red Bull just to make it all the way through.

From bostonherald.com
A bloody good time

The surprise is a devilishly demented new “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the smooth directorial debut of music-video veteran Samuel Bayer.

With Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”) donning original star Robert Englund’s ratty sweater and beaten fedora, “Nightmare” tells the story of Krueger’s origin in elaborate flashbacks.

Ever since he first appeared in Wes Craven’s 1984 “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” razor-gloved, disfigured child-killer Freddy Krueger has taken his place among Hollywood’s horror royalty, starring in all the smash hit, gory sequels.

So it was inevitable that if hockey-masked Jason Voorhees (the Friday the 13th series) and Leatherface (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) could hit the restart button, Freddy would too.

The surprise is a devilishly demented new “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the smooth directorial debut of music-video veteran Samuel Bayer.

With Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”) donning original star Robert Englund’s ratty sweater and beaten fedora, “Nightmare” tells the story of Krueger’s origin in elaborate flashbacks.

“Nightmare” begins on a dark and rainy night in the nearly deserted Springwood diner as Dean (Kellan Lutz, “Twilight”) sits alone, plagued by visions whenever he closes his eyes.

He dreams that he follows waitress Nancy (Rooney Mara, Kate Mara’s younger sister) into a fiery kitchen where he encounters a man with a razor-studded glove.

When he wakes up, his palm is slashed and bloody.

When Kris (Katie Cassidy) arrives and tries to calm him, Dean suddenly yells, “You’re not real!” and slashes his own throat.

At the funeral, Kris sees herself as a little girl by the coffin. Worse, she sees her younger self in a childhood picture of Dean. But didn’t they meet in high school?

Soon, other teens die horrible, bloody deaths, stalked in their dreams by that same man. Nancy teams up with Quentin (Kyle Gallner), to figure out who is haunting and killing Elm Street’s teenagers.

Nancy’s mom (Connie Britton) knows something, and when she calls Quentin’s dad (Clancy Brown) she informs him “Nancy’s remembering.”

But what? Nothing less than who Freddy Krueger was and why he’s come to take all those children away.

This is the first “Nightmare” excursion without Englund, 62.

Taking up the helm is Haley, who, with an electronically altered voice, makes Freddy a gleeful thug.

You’ll scream for more.

From inforum.com
Kellan Lutz is going to die this weekend.

It will happen while he sleeps. The death will be gruesome bordering on disturbing. Millions of people will watch it happen. And he will be murdered by a man whose face looks like melted wax.

This disturbing turn of events will be celebrated by many people who suddenly feel a sense of pride for the North Dakota native whose rippled abs and beguiling smile have made him a Hollywood hunk-in-training.

For all you lusting over Lutz, don’t sweat. He’s not going to really die this weekend. But the actor who’s stretching his resume past the “Twilight” oeuvre will perish on movie screens this weekend as a character in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake.

And it will be a good thing.

Because for an actor trying to get some exposure, being killed by Freddy Krueger – the resident psychopath of “Elm Street” – is the kind of thing that could spark life in your career.

Johnny Depp spent time on Elm Street. So did Patricia Arquette. And Laurence Fishburne. They might not have survived their respective dates with Krueger, but dancing with his glove-o’-knives didn’t seem to hurt their careers.

This doesn’t mean Lutz will become a lovable pirate, see dead people or wear a trench coat and offer blue and red pills to random people. But paired with his surging modeling career – check out Lutz’s Calvin Klein ads, if you dare – spending a little time on “Elm Street” seems certain to boost the former Dickinson resident’s Q rating.

And that’s why North Dakota needs to honor him.

Because in a state where celebrities are as common as palm trees, Lutz is becoming a favorite son for the upcoming generation of Nodak pop-culture addicts.

So let’s treat him right and name something after him. Perhaps, a power plant.

If you’re not into facts about North Dakota power plants, all you need to know is that some of them are named after our state’s power people; for example, the one near Center is named after former politico Milton R. Young.

Lutz isn’t the political powerbroker Young was, but he has broader appeal and might actually be able to bring sexy back to energy.

Coincidentally, there’s a proposed power plant to be built near South Heart, which is very close to Lutz’s former home of Dickinson.

So let’s do it. Let’s get Lutz’s name on this future power plant. Hopefully this happens before he dies, for real.

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