The Hollywood horror remake has shown its ugly mug again — only this time with added facial burns — with “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a present-day update of the 1984 Wes Craven flick of the same name, whose lousy trailer has just been inflicted upon the public — a harbinger of real doom for what awaits us in April.
For fans disenchanted by the recent spout of horror revamps (from the underrated “Halloween” to the disastrous “Prom Night”), this new-look vehicle of Freddy Krueger’s eerily fits the bill of its generally sloppy brethren: a music video director’s at the helm, the cast is largely unknown and the original’s concepts all appear to have been stripped to the bare essentials. Of course, we’ve only a trailer to “marvel” at right now, but the evidence thus far suggests a work more reminiscent of Marcus Nispel’s dreary “Friday the 13th” than something appropriately vicious and entertaining like Alexandre Aja’s “The Hills Have Eyes.”
The most noticeable change to the “Nightmares on Elm Street” of old is the replacement of Robert Englund in the role of central villain Freddy Krueger. Heading up the run-of-the-mill, predictably “sexy” cast is Jackie Earle Haley of “Little Children” and “Watchmen” fame. For “Nightmare,” he slips his hand into the blade-rich gloves formerly championed by Englund and portrays everyone’s favorite dream-stalking serial killer Freddy. His previous body of work has suggested a knack for playing creepy roles, so it’s difficult to imagine a better alternative for the role besides predecessor Englund himself, though imagining a world in which every cinematic property of the past 30 years isn’t re-worked in the name of studio profit seems more delightful. Anyways, if the acting showcased in this trailer is anything to go by, Haley might well be the only cast member who leaves an impression.
From a rain-soaked diner scene that introduces Freddy to his, presumably, second batch of victims and his first post-lynching to a panic-punctuated passage that would appear to spell out the only real twist that screenwriters Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer have seemingly brought to the table, this “A Nightmare on Elm Street” trailer simply sucks. Save for the iconic slasher villain and the thought-provoking techniques he naturally brings to proceedings, nothing about this new film appears any bit more appealing than the worst, most hopelessly glossy contemporary horrors of its ilk. It’s just what might as well be the same batch of teenagers from any of its brethren going through situations that are either going through the motions of imitating the prior “Nightmare” films or just trading in plain old genre cliches. Color me disinterested.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is produced by Michael Bay, which is a way of saying that it isn’t directed by the man so may have some kind of hope after all. He loitered in the shadows with the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” updates of a few years back and didn’t have too much of a negative effect on good horror movies that benefited from two stand-out R. Lee Ermey performances. This time around, the filmmakers better hope they benefit in similar fashion from whatever Haley brings to the Krueger role, since their film appears to be lacking in what makes “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” revisions agreeable horror flicks. When the most recognisable faces in support of the man are the likes of Katie Cassidy (of “When a Stranger Calls”) and Clancy Brown (of “The Shawshank Redemption” and TV’s “Lost”) it’s likely he’ll be playing like a God among mere mortals.
Freddy Krueger revives on U.S. screens April 30.
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